Consumers, health experts and scientists have long been debating the true effects of GMO foods to the environment and human health. Although there are a number of advantages that can be pointed out, there are also several potential risks that might persuade most to prefer natural or organic products instead. Knowing more about genetically altered products and the processes will help consumers decide better.
What Are Genetically Modified Organisms And GE Foods?
Genetically modified organisms or GMOs are described as organisms having altered genetic material through genetic engineering processes. The techniques are also called recombinant DNA technology, wherein DNA molecules are used from various sources, then mixed into a single molecule to make new genes. The DNA will be forwarded into an organism, providing it with novel or modified genes. GMOs are also known as transgenic organisms, having inserted DNA that stem from a new species.
Genetic modification usually incorporates the deletion or adding of genes. Once genes are inserted, these will stem from a new species, which becomes a type of horizontal gene transfer. This naturally happens when exogenous DNA enters the cell membrane.
GE foods are described as products that come from GMOs. The organism that has had DNA alteration is shown to chemicals or radiation, then will make a non-specific stable change. Other approaches that change food organisms are animal breeding, plant breeding, selective breeding and somaclonal variation. Genetically modified foods were first introduced in the market during the 1990s. These were usually transgenic plant products like corn, soybean, rice and canola. A number of critics have also pointed out the consequences of these products on human health, economy and the environment.
Are There Environmental Consequences With GM Rice?
Rice is a staple food in several countries, especially Asia. New technologies are now trying to develop GM rice that can resist herbicides, pesticides and insects. The good effect is increased availability in different places, reducing hunger and boosting availability. The price of rice is also expected to be lower because of high supply. However, there are associated problems that come with growing GMO rice. Initially, the health effects of genetically altered rice are not fully known. Some experts believe that long term consumption of the product can lead to different health problems.
The growing of genetically altered rice can also have harmful effects on the environment and other growing plants. Should the rice variant mix with other species, raw materials can be contaminated, changing the genetic composition of rice in different places. In the years to come, it is very possible that some variants or species of rice will become fully extinct.
Continuous exposure and resistance to sprays and insecticides will also mean that the genetically changed rice will have added tolerance to the poison. In a few years, it will require extra amounts of chemicals to achieve the same effect. Having high levels of the poison and contaminants in rice can be problematic to both human health and neighboring fields. The effect is very much similar to other types of crops.