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First Speaker: Good afternoon! Genetically modified foods have been in the limelight for the better part of recent news. Several environmental organizations and public interest groups have been actively involved in matters pertaining genetically modified foods. There have been varied controversies about genetically modified foods especially on the health effects of the foods. Our opponents insist that there is no need for labeling genetically modified foods, but is that really the right approach? According to our opponents, genetically modified foods have several advantages hence no need to label them as they serve same purpose like other foods available in stores. My colleagues will help me to support the significance of labeling genetically modified foods. They will seek to explore the GM food labeling policies in the US. The major objective of genetically modified food labeling is to make truthful data available to users without confusing them. In general, food labels are instrumental for the main purpose: to offer sufficient and exact information interrelated to health and safety concerns.

The Consumer Watch of America insists that consumers have a legal privilege to know what is in the food they consume, especially concerning products for which environmental and health concerns have been raised. In the event of any side effects of genetically modified foods, labeling allows these problems to be easily spotted, traced and verified. In addition, foods labels protect consumers and industries from fraudulent and confusing advertising and packaging practices. Furthermore, this will allow consumers to make informed decisions and choices on health and food. In turn, there will be increased consumer confidence in product quality. On a more positive note, average quality of food will increase, because labeling makes food producers responsible for their commodities. No producers will be willing to put adverse labels on their food because it will scare of potential consumers. Finally, food labels promote fair competition and product marketability (Winter n.pag).

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First Point: According to Byrne, the term “genetically modified foods or organisms” generally refers to crop foods established for human or other creatures like animals consumption using latest molecular biology techniques. The modification of these plants takes place in laboratories to enhance desired characteristics like increased tolerance to herbicides or enhanced nutritional content. In the customary ways, product enhancement was through such means as breeding. However, there has been a high demand for food, and breeding methods cannot meet these demands, because it is time consuming and often-inaccurate (Genetically Modified Foods n.pag.).

The innovators of genetically modified foods pride on recent technologies, which have the capability to generate plants with the proper, desired attribute extremely quickly and with absolute precision. For example, plant geneticists can segregate a gene responsible for drought forbearance and interleave that gene into a special plant. In this case, the new plant will gain drought tolerance as well as other traits from the other plants. The best-known case in point is to utilize of Bt genes in corns and other crops. For instance, Bt-corn is a type of genetically modified organism, termed as GMO. “In the case of Bt corn, the donor organism is a naturally occurring soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, and the gene of interest produces a protein which kills Lepidoptera larvae, in particular, European corn borer”. In the recent past, scientists have carried out researches, which reveal that genetically modified foods pose a significant health risk to the users. For this reason, there have been various campaigns to label genetically modified foods in stores and groceries in an effort to generate awareness to the users (Dennis n.pag).

Technology has been instrumental in dealing with the problems of world hunger. The advent of genetically modified foods, also known as transgenic crops, is not a new conception but there is still a debate over it. Most people and users question the impact of these foods on human health and the environment. Genetically modified foods have several advantages over the traditional methods such as breeding (Byrnel n.pag). The source of the DNA is not limited to related wild plants, which means that the DNA can come from other plant species, microorganisms, animals, or even lab manufactured genes. On another level, the relocation of new genes is unswerving and does not necessitate many generations of breeding to improve the new cultivar. In addition, while traditional methods of gene transfer may lead to the transfer of closely connected genetics, modern methods consent to a more detached move of a single valuable gene. In contemporary breeding of crops, construction of new genes is possible especially using molecular techniques, which could not be found in wild plants used for traditional breeding (Butcher n.pag).

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Second point: On the other hand, the innovation has negative effects on human health. For this reason, it is necessary for food manufacturers and producers to label genetically modified foods. The evolution of resistant crops, which produce food for human consumption, can be detrimental to the environment and the ecology at large. In case of resistance, genetically modified crops will cause evolution of resistant crops in a few years, which in turn will lead to an augment in the quantity and types of herbicides on crop plants. Consumers of these products need to understand and identify the genetically modified crops and foods in order to avoid this demerit in agriculture. Another problem associated with lack of labeling on the chemical affects the human health and body. Some of the DNAs combined with food for human consumption may have a negative effect. For instance, a study of Bt crops revealed that beneficial insects were also exposed to detrimental amounts of Bt. Therefore it is probable for impacts to rise further up the food web to affect plants and animals consumed by humans. In relation to this revelation, it is necessary for foods and plants from modern technologies to be labeled for consumer awareness. More so, there is a need for further investigations on the effect of residues from herbicides on the surrounding soil organisms like nematodes, fungi, and other microorganisms (Morton n.pag).

Third Point: Health risks connected with genetically modified foods is apprehensive with toxins, genetic hazards, and allergens. The mechanisms of food hazards fall into three principal categories. These include inserted genes and their expression products, secondary and pleiotropic effects of gene expression. In addition, there is the effect of insertion mutagenesis resulting from gene integration. In relation to genes, insertion is not the transferred gene which poses the health risk, but the expression of the gene and the influence of the gene product. New proteins can be blended and produce unpredictable allergenic effects. For instance, bean plants, which were genetically modified to increase cysteine and methione content, were banned after the discovery, which showed that protein transgenic was highly allergic. In this case, labeling genetically manufactured foods like fish, wheat, crustacean, milk, legumes, and nuts will be instrumental in guarding consumers’ health. More apprehension comes with secondary and pleitropic effects especially on enzymes, which alters biochemical pathways. This will lead to high or low in certain bio-chemicals. Existence of a new enzyme could be the basis for exhaustion in the enzymatic substrate and successive build up of the enzymatic manufactured goods (Forman n.pag).

Fourth Point: To close this debate, I will turn on the costs involved into GM foods labeling. There is the aspect of costs associated with food labeling. The most notable one is supply chain tracking which ensures separation of producers and suppliers and traces the production of agricultural food products throughout the supply chain. This should be from seed creation to foodstuff products on superstore shelves. In so doing, two procedures such as segregation and identity preservation will help demonstrate the consistency in practices and industry standards (Ekici & Sancak n.pag.).

The costs will include frequent testing of the products and detailed record keeping at the various steps along the supply chain. In the United States of America, the Food and Drug Administration monitors the labeling of genetically modified foods and helps in the enforcement and implementation of food labeling laws and regulations to look after the security of food additives and food under Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The US is the first country to develop a policy towards genetically modified foods. Recent surveys point toward the fact that a high fraction of American customers wants genetically modified food labeling for all the above reasons. Politicians have proposed mandatory labeling legislation in Congress and within the state legislatures of California. However, political support seems not to be enough to pass the legislation, hence may need support from other organizations (Amin et al., n.pag.). 

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