Most of us may have already heard about genetically engineered crops, vegetables and fruits, with soybeans and corn being the most common. However, have you heard of genetic engineering in animals? The truth is that genetically engineered animals are already on our grocery shelves and supermarkets.
Genetic engineering has its pros and cons. GE advocates point out that genetic modification of plants and animals helps to create more-improved and disease or drug-resistant organisms. GE critics however, counter that genetic modification has not yet been fully tested to be safe and healthy, and the US government, through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not even keen on labeling GMO crops, fruits and animals. This means that the public won't know if the food they consume is genetically modified or not.
What exactly are genetically engineered animals? GE animals actually have bits and pieces of their DNA structure altered, and may even have foreign DNA inserted into them, to make them stronger and healthier, as well as to produce other results. Proponents of genetic engineering say that the process makes animals grow faster and become more disease-resistant. For example, some pigs have been inserted with omega-3 fatty acids, to make them much healthier to consume.
Genetic Engineering In Animals - Are We Messing With Our Food?
Is genetic engineering in animals safe? Critics counter that messing with Mother Nature poses great risks, both to the consumer and the environment. It's quite hard to tell if genetic engineering is safe or beneficial, since most genetically modified animals have not been fully tested in humans, thus it makes the modification process one huge human feeding experiment. The main question that we should pose instead to GE proponents is, does the world actually need genetically-modified animals in the food supply? Or is genetic modification only benefiting a few wealthy corporations and bio-tech firms?
The FDA considers genetic engineering of animals as a process of inserting new DNA into animals. Since the DNA inserted becomes part of the animal, the FDA classifies the animal, and its by-products, as drugs. If the labeling law goes into effect, the wealthy biotech companies will have to prove the safety of their products, before the GMO by-product is sold in the market. This means that the pigs injected with omega-3 fatty acids should be labeled properly, so that consumers will know.
Why Mothers Are Telling The Experts To Stop Playing With Genetic Engineering In Food
The biggest concern for consumers, especially parents, is the safety of genetically modified food. Many parents are worried how a GE animal is tracked and monitored, and what the possible long-term health effects are. A public interest group, the Center for Science in Public Interest, states that companies should adopt a national animal identification program, to record and store information on GE animals.
But even if the appropriate safeguards have already been introduced, many parents still have second thoughts of feeding their kids with GMO animals. Majority of parents are in agreement that genetic engineering in food should be curtailed, or if not, strictly regulated by the government.