genetically modified foods - St. Francis Xavier Church , Panvel

Green Earth Movement
An E-Newsletter for the cause of Environment, Peace, Harmony and Justice
Remember - “you and I can decide the future”
Genetically modified (GM) foods are foods derived from
organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified
in a way that does not occur naturally, e.g. through the
introduction of a gene from a different organism. Currently
available GM foods stem mostly from plants, but in the
future foods derived from GM microorganisms or GM
animals are likely to be introduced on the market.
Most existing genetically
modified crops have
been developed to
improve yield, through
the introduction of
resistance to plant
diseases or of increased tolerance of herbicides. In the
future, genetic modification could be aimed at
altering the nutrient content of food, reducing its
allergenic potential, or improving the efficiency of
food production systems. All GM foods should be
assessed before being allowed on the market.
FAO/WHO Codex guidelines exist for risk analysis of
GM food.
While there is broad scientific consensus that food
on the market derived from GM crops pose no
greater risk to human health than conventional
food, critics have objected to GM foods on several
grounds, including safety issues, ecological
concerns, and economic concerns raised by the
fact GM plants (and
potentially animals)
that are food sources
are subject to
intellectual property
1] The Biolistic Method
(or gene-gun method)
The biolistic method--or
gene-gun method--is
most commonly used in
the genetic engineering of plants. Pellets of metal are
coated with the desirable DNA and are fired at plant
cells. The cells take up the DNA and grow into new
plants. This technique has proven quite effective in
plant engineering.
Agrobacterium is well known for its ability to transfer DNA between
itself and plants, and for this reason it has become an important tool
for genetic engineering.
Once satisfactory plants are produced,
sufficient seeds are gathered, and the
companies producing the seed need to
apply for regulatory approval of
field-test the seeds. If these field tests are
successful, the company must seek
regulatory approval for the crop to be marketed. Once that approval
is obtained, the seeds are mass-produced, and sold to farmers. The
farmers produce genetically modified crops, which also contain the
inserted gene and its protein product. The farmers then sell their crops
as commodities into the food supply market, in countries where such
sales are permitted.
Why do genetically modified foods exist?
Researchers develop genetically modified foods for the purpose of
creating an advantage to the producer or the consumer of these
products. Such an advantage can be a new product which has greater
overall benefits and can sell at a lower price compared to its
competitors. The original objective for genetically modified food
development was to enhance crop production, such as modifying a
plant to age slower or to be resistant to diseases. Nearly 40% of the
world's food crop is lost every year to insects, fungal diseases and
spoilage. By genetically modifying plants to be less susceptible to these
factors, the overall worldwide crop yield would dramatically increase.
1] Saves the use of toxic chemicals. GM crops
can be made resistant to pests, so pesticides do
not need to be sprayed on them. This is also
better on the environment!
2] Prevents wasted crops.
If pests cannot eat the crops,
nothing goes to waste.
Therefore, farmers make
more money!
3. It could potentially
solve hunger. Many
people agree that there
is not enough food in the
world to feed everybody.
As Genetically Modified foods increase the yields
of crops, more food is produced by farmers. Of
course, others argue that there is enough food to
feed everyone, but it is unequally distributed.
Others argue the GM crops do not produce
higher yields.
4. We can begin to grow foods in different
conditions. For instance, strawberries can be
genetically engineered to grow in frosts. Other
foods that grow in cold climates could be
engineered to grow in hot climates (such as
Africa where much of the continent does not
have enough food).
5. Some foods can be genetically modifies
to contain higher amounts of important
vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin A deficiencies
cause blindness. In
Africa, 500,000 go
blind each year. If rice
can be modified to contain more vitamin
A, the amount of people going blind will
6. As more research is done the
technology is bound to improve.
Scientists are already considering
genetic modification to make fish, nuts
and plants grow faster.
Despite the above benefits of GM foods, many
people refuse to eat genetically modified
foods over concerns that it could be
dangerous to their health. There is still no
detailed study about the long term effects of
eating genetically modified foods. There are
also issues such as whether scientists should
play God and whether biotechnology
companies (the people that made the GM
seeds) should have control over food supply
(they could choose not to sell the seeds to
certain people or countries).
1. Resistant Weeds
Food crops grown from
genetically modified seeds can
affect the weeds that grow in
the same area. Weeds can access the modified genes
which make the crops resistant, and after some years
the weeds themselves can become resistant. This will
mean more chemicals needed, which can affect the
safety of the food crops when consumed. Higher
chemicals can mean food which should not be eaten.
2. Higher Levels Of Plant Estrogens
Glyphosate, which is applied to make crops resistant
to weeds, causes higher plant estrogen levels.
Estrogen affects all mammals, including humans, and
children are very susceptible to higher estrogen levels,
which can be dangerous and pose long term health
3. Unknown Toxins
Genetically altering seeds and foods can pose
unknown risks of toxins and allergens that have
never been present before. This was seen with an Ltryptophan supplement produced in 1989. This
supplement caused the death of thirty seven people
and affected more than
fifteen hundred more. The
bacteria used was altered
genetically, resulting in a
new and toxic amino acid
never found in this
supplement before.
4. Risk Of Negative Interactions
With genetically modified
foods, there is always a risk
of interactions or reactions
that have never been seen. This can be an
interaction between two different foods with
modified genes or between the genes in the
food and certain medications. There is not
enough evidence because these crops and
foods have not been in use long enough, and
new varieties are frequently being produced.
5. No Long Term Research
Genetically modified foods have
not had long term research done,
and very little short term
information. The government approved the use of
these foods in the food chain under the assumption
that the risks were the same as the unmodified
plants, and this was a big mistake. The genetic
modification done on the plants can have a dramatic
effect on the risks and safety concerns, and there is no
long term risk information available to determine if
these foods have long term risks.
6. Genetically Modified Food Is Not Labeled:
One of the biggest dangers with genetically
modified foods is that there is no labeling
requirements. These foods make up one fourth
of the food supply in the United States, and is
in more foods than you may
think. Without labeling it is
impossible to know which
foods have higher risks so
that you can avoid them
and protect the health of your family.
7. Unknown Genetic Effect On Humans
There is no way to tell if
Genetically modified foods can
have an effect on the genetics
of people. At first it was
believed by scientists and
researchers that the modified genes were
destroyed during the digestion process, but
recently modified food genes have been found in
the brains of some infant mice. This can be very
dangerous in infants and children, and poses
unknown risks for anyone who eats these foods.
8. Higher Fat Content In Some Foods
When genetically modified food crops are fed
to animals, the result can be unexpected. When
genetically altered soybeans were used as part
of the diet for dairy cows, the resulting milk
had higher percentages of fat in it. This factor
shows that the genetically modified foods
should not be considered
just as safe as the
traditional food.
9. Insect Resistance
Foods which are genetically
altered to minimize the
need for pesticides can
actually cause an increase in chemical use
over time and produce insects which
become resistant to commonly used
pesticides. This can create insect problems
that can threaten the food supply and
result in food shortages.
10. The Little Information Currently Available Is
The small amount of information
available about genetically
modified foods is skewed and not
accurate at times. When the
application for Roundup Ready genetically modified
soybeans was completed for market approval of the
soybeans, the information in the application was
based on the safety level and compound
concentration levels of traditional soybeans and not
from testing on the genetically modified version.
In India, GM Crops Come at a High Price
Bt cotton is currently India’s only genetically modified
crop, but it accounts for 95 percent of all cotton
farming in the country.
The seeds can cost
anywhere between 700 to
2,000 rupees ($38) per
packet, or about three to
eight times the cost of
conventional seeds.
Let’s conclude with one quote each - for,
against and neutral on G. M. Foods/Crops
GM technology is the only technology to be regulated
from its inception, before any mishaps had occurred.
Researchers who developed the technology set up a
series of voluntary regulations in 1974 which have
generally become officially incorporated by
governments throughout the world. GM crops have
been extensively tested in hundreds of thousands of
field tests. Foods from these crops have to pass much
more rigorous regulations than from conventionally
bred crops.
Ben Miflin , Harvard Website
"GM crops are not the solution to feeding the
world. As a farmer, I am an environmental
manager and do not see the need to start
tinkering with nature when the outcome could
have very serious long-term risks… We have
pushed the land to the limit and GM is
supposed to be the solution. This isn't true."
Henry Birkbeck, one of Norfolk's biggest
landowners, farming 8,500 acres
To generalise and declare 'all GM is bad' or 'all GM is good'
for the environment as a result of these [farm scale
evaluation] experiments is a gross over-simplification, but
statements from both sides in the GM propaganda war
have claimed 'victory' based on these findings. Rather than
closing the case for or against GM crops, these results
should drive society to ask more questions, not just about
GM crops, but about agriculture more generally. They
should be used as a catalyst for a debate about the future
of modern agriculture.
Lord May of Oxford, President of the Royal Society, the UK
national academy of sciences.
This PowerPoint Presentation is prepared by GEM Team
(courtesy: internet). Other GEM PowerPoint Presentations are:
Zero Garbage – Nobel for India!
Solar Energy
Junk Food – A slow poison
Twenty Tips To Save Nature
Plastic – a boon or bane?
Green Passion
Soft drink – A Health Hazard
Waste to energy
Rain Water Harvesting
Eco-friendly Religions
Climate Change
The future of Biodiversity
These PPTs may be downloaded from our website: – GEM section

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