Genetic engineering in food has become widely practiced. It is very much supported by biotechnology, dealing with food science, medicine and agriculture. Before 1971, the word was highly associated with food processing industries and agriculture. Genes can be moved and developed to create different crops that may ultimately mean higher yields. The characteristics might also change and have some unforeseen effects to the environment as a whole.
Genetic Engineering in Food - What Biotechnology and Agri-Business is Saying
Genetic engineering of food or biotechnology aims to enhance the value of different foods. This is an application that presents a lot of potential, leading to improved taste, higher nutritional value and higher tolerance against various herbicides and pesticides. Food spoilage will also be reduced and vegetables and fruits will have longer shelf life. Researchers have pointed out At-DBF2, a plant gene which boosts the tolerance against severe climates and harsh soil, once inserted into tobacco and tomato cells. Some climates and types of soils can hinder the proper growth of crops. The limits now can be fixed by improving the gens. Genetic engineering can also make the plants protected against different pests, insects and herbicides.
Genetic engineering in food has made it possible to make new substances, like nutrients and proteins. The food can also be altered to boost the medicinal value. Edible vaccines might have usefulness in food genetic engineering. Other benefits can include cost-effectiveness of medicine, wide availability of food regardless of the period and climate and lower costs in growing and maintaining plants.
What experts say about the ramifications that come with the growing and marketing of these foods:
The higher dose of herbicides and gene contamination among crops are two of the possible outcomes of genetic engineering. Recombinant genes and horizontal gene transfer will lead to new pathogens. It can also present virulency among disease causing organisms. Transgenic life can prove to be harmful through genetically engineered food. The crops can also supersede weeds, leading to problems in the natural balance and order. The self-replication of GM forms will cause problems in growth and production later on.
- Food shortage can happen leading to both economic and political concerns.
- Poorer nations will have to deal with more hunger problems
- Patenting laws will mean that farmers cannot freely grow and sell the seeds and they have to compete with huge companies that have exclusive rights
- GE crop seed is more expensive making it hard for farmers to afford in the long run.
- It is still a young technology and the full effects is not yet known
- Crop uniformity will lessen the diversity of genes, so some crops will become especially prone to pests and disease.
- The mixing of genes between modified and standard crops can drive others to problems in growing them
In the years to come, the governing authorities will have to find ways to fix the problems that are being caused now by growing these genetically changed products. Corporation motives will have to reviewed and regulation of the processes have to be determined for the benefit of all concerned.