Genetically Engineered Crops
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Natural foods are foods that are minimally processed and hence they do not contain any manufactured ingredients such as antibiotics, hormones, food colors, sweeteners or flavors. Examples of natural foods include apples, bananas, oranges, spinach, ginger, broccoli and cauliflower. Eating natural foods, especially fruits and vegetables, is important for maintaining body’s health. This is because they contain essential minerals, fibers and vitamins that help to protect the body against chronic diseases (Freedman 36). Furthermore, these foods contain fewer pesticides in addition to being fresh. Natural foods also contain fewer preservatives and this makes them fresher. Environmentalists also claim that natural foods are friendly to the environment since they help to reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility and reduce pollution. Unnatural foods are foods that have undergone processing and they contain preservatives and food color. Examples of unnatural foods are genetically modified papayas, irradiated foods and high fructose corn syrup. Health experts argue that unnatural foods containing low glycemic diets are important to the body’s health since they help in appetite control, reduce the cholesterol levels and risk of cancer.
Artificial foods are manufactured from resins and plastics and they imitate the appearance of real foods. They are mainly put in restaurant displays to show consumers the types of food the restaurant offers. They are also used as props for background in movies and television commercials. I support natural foods. This is because they are healthier since they do not contain harmful chemicals that affect the normal functioning of the body. In addition to this, they contain more vitamins and minerals and thus they help in protecting the body against diseases. I do not support unnatural foods since they contain ingredients that expose the body to the risk of cancer (Ruse and Castle 68). Furthermore, research on genetically modified crops, especially soya beans, revealed that these crops could raise new allergy outbreaks in human beings.
Biotech foods are unnatural foods since their DNAs are exposed to specific changes using genetic engineering techniques such as somaclonal variation and selective breeding. There are several benefits of biotech foods. These foods help in environmental protection. This is because they are resistant to pests and diseases and thus farmers do not need to use pesticides and herbicides in order to protect their crops. Genetically engineered potatoes and maize have the ability of producing their own insecticidal agents. This saves the farmers’ costs that they would have incurred in purchasing insecticides for spraying these crops (Coleman 2). These foods also require less land to produce and thus they help in reducing the amount of land under cultivation. In addition to this, they require less water for their survival and thus they help in conserving the environmental water. Scientists have also developed crops that can grow in dry areas or areas that contain saline soils, which are not suitable for the growth of crops. These crops will help in rehabilitating degraded lands and thus improving the environment.
Biotech foods also help in improving farm productivity. This will help in reducing global hunger, especially in the third world countries. Researchers established that 24,000 people die each day due to hunger. If countries adopt biotech foods, food production will increase since these foods are resistant to extreme weather conditions and pest attacks. This will reduce crop failure since these crops will still be producing their target output despite harsh weather conditions such as frost and drought. In addition to this, these crops have higher yields and thus the farmer may sell them and earn more income (Jeff 8). From this income the farmers are able to improve their living standards. National Center for Food Research conducted a study in the United States and discovered that farmers who had invested in biotech products harvested 5.3 billion additional pounds of crops. From this harvest, they earned extra $ 22 billion. These foods also help in reducing the price of world agricultural products. This is because farmers incur lower costs while producing them and receive higher yields. Biotech output is also nutritious since scientists insert genes that help in increasing their food value.
Biotech foods have also helped in improving the health of individuals. Scientists are considering increasing the content of zinc in barley in order to reduce the zinc deficiency in people’s bodies. In addition to this, scientists have produced purple tomatoes by increasing their level of anthocyanin. These tomatoes increased the lifespan of cancer-prone mice by 30%. Furthermore, blood oranges, which are produced through biotech, help in protecting the DNA against oxidative damage (Ruse and Castle 98). Research has also proved that these oranges help in reducing cardiovascular diseases since they help in limiting the development of fat cells and weight gain. A research conducted by Royal Society of Medicine revealed that people have eaten genetically modified foods for over 15 years and there is no reported case of ill effects from these foods.
There are several harms associated with biotech foods. Critics argue that these foods make underdeveloped countries to become dependent on other countries. This is because only countries with financial resources that are able to conduct researches on how to improve gene compositions of plants and animals in order to boost food produce. Only large companies can produce genetically modified rice containing larger amounts of vitamin A (Coleman 2). Scientists have also discovered that these foods contain certain components that may expose a person to the risk of cancer. This is because these components increase the chances of growth of malignant tumors when they are exposed to the human body. Research has also proved that these foods reduce the immune systems of human beings. This theory was proved when scientists conducted studies on mice eating biotech food and discovered that it caused an immune reaction that destroyed cells regulating the immune systems of these mice. These foods may affect the digestive systems of human beings. Moreover, biotech foods may cause allergic reactions of people consuming them, especially if they suffer from food allergies. This is because the introduction of new DNA into the genetically modified plant may produce a new protein allergen that may affect individuals suffering from allergies. Brazil banned the proposal of incorporating genes of Brazil nuts into soya beans since it would cause allergic reactions of individuals suffering from nut allergies.
There is also a risk that gene transfer may occur during the development of biotech foods. Cross pollination may occur between non GMO crops and GMO crops if these crops are planted close to each other. This may cause negative effects to the health of people consuming these crops. Furthermore, there may be a risk of cross-pollination between plant and weeds that may result to a plant that may be resistant to herbicides (Ruse and Castle 79). Research conducted by John Losey also revealed that pollen grains coming from corn that was genetically altered increased the mortality rates of butterflies and caterpillars. These pollen contained toxins that aimed at killing insects which would damage the growth of corn. Biotech foods may also cause harm to the environment. This is because they may affect the soil integrity since they contain new proteins that may enter into the soil and affect the microorganisms living in the soil. This may diminish the health of the soil and affect the sustainability of the ecosystem. Biotech plants may make insects to develop resistance to pesticides. This is because the insects may evolve to become Bt-resistant insects and thus they may not be affected by biopesticide toxin produced by genetically engineered plants. In addition to this, they may cause weeds to become resistant to herbicides since they may become resistant to glyphosate (Freedman 101).
To conclude, biotech foods provide more benefits than harm to the society. This is because this technology helps to boost the global food production. Moreover, the yield from genetically engineered plants and animals also contains high food nutrients and thus this helps to improve the health of individuals consuming these foods. If the third world countries produced these foods, they would be able to reduce or cease their food shortages depending on food donations and foreign aid for survival. Furthermore, farmers incur fewer costs when planting biotech plants. This is because these crops are resistant to pests and diseases and thus farmers do not need to purchase pesticides for killing pests that may attack their crops. These crops are also friendly to the environment. Biotech soybeans facilitate no till farming and thus reducing soil erosion and water pollution. However, biotech foods have caused several harms to the society. This is because they cause allergic reactions of people who consume these foods. In addition to this, they may harm other harmless organisms in the ecosystem since toxins designed to kill pesticides may affect harmless bees and butterflies. Pests and insects may also evolve and become resistant to toxins produced by biotech foods.