The Pros and Cons of Genetically Engineered Foods
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The Pros and Cons of Genetically Engineered Foods

GM crops use more pesticides, cross pollinate with organic crops, and may cause food allergies. Evidence shows they also contain less phytoestrogens, essential for fighting disease.

Recent statistics show that around 70 percent of food on American grocery shelves has been genetically modified in some way. This figure is expected to reach 90 percent by 2012. Most of this is soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, squash and dairy produce. More than one third of US farming land is now planted with genetically modified crops. Predictions for the next 10 years are that all food will be genetically modified in some way. But what are the pros and cons of genetically engineered foods?

Pros and Cons of Genetically Engineered Foods

While seed grower, Monsanto, claims GMOs are harmless and will help feed the world, there are many questions left unanswered. Those pro GMOs claim the plants are resistant to pests and use less pesticide, shelf life is improved, and they offer an ‘easy’ route for delivering new drugs and vaccines. There are now genetically modified chickens that lay drug-enriched eggs to fight off certain diseases. This last revelation could be potentially worrying for those of us who are trying to use more natural remedies.

On the other side of the coin, the new United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported that industrialized nations are able to produce enough food to feed the world without genetically engineered foods. Other research has shown that over the last few years, more pesticide use has been found in genetically modified crops, rather than less. The gmo food debate goes on.

GMO Foods and Allergies

Genetically modified food often contains DNA from a totally different species, such as plant, animal, insect or bacterial, and viral DNA. As allergens are transferred at molecular levels, one risk is increased allergies – soy allergies have increased by 50 percent since the introduction of genetically modified soy. By adding genes found in peanuts to crop seeds, severe reactions can be expected in anyone with a peanut allergy. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that splicing Brazil nut genes with soybeans produced the same allergic reaction in the soy bean as eating the Brazil nut itself.

Another problem is the environmental aspect. Cross-pollination means pollen from genetically modified crops easily transfers to organic crops, threatening their existence. Two Canadian farmers have taken Monsanto to court claiming genetically modified canola has spread so rapidly that they can no longer even grow an organic version of the crop.

Less Disease Fighting Properties

The Journal of Medicinal Food reported in 1999 that cancer-fighting phytoestrogens in genetically modified soy beans were 14 percent lower than in their organic counterparts. Another problem for vegetarians is that animal derived products are making their way into plant foods. Fish genes are routinely used to improve shelf life in GMO foods, particularly tomatoes.

The jury is still out on genetically engineered foods. With such little hard scientific evidence available it is hard to make a decision either way. However, there is significant circumstantial evidence to at least wait until we know more about what we are creating for ourselves and our environment.

References:

Action Bio Science 

Institute of Science in Society 

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Comments (4)
Hoggins

Mrs Hoggins is coming to get you!

Ranked #2 in Food Safety

The Journal of Medicinal Food report is interesting and important. I also didnt know that fish genes were used in tomatoes. I think the GMO problem is much larger than they tell us.

Unfortunately, it is. Fish genes in some vegetables are upsetting quite a few vegetarians too - as you can imagine ...

Ranked #6 in Food Safety

Good information on engineered foods. I have voted for it. Please write more, thank you.

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