Genetically modified or genetically modified foods have been calling global attention for both their benefits and risks. genetically modified foods have been described as foods manufactured from organisms whose genetic material or DNA is artificially modified (WHO 2014). The change is done by infusing a gene into the organisms from another or different organism. Most genetically modified foods are recently produced from plants. The prospects are to derive them from GM microorganisms or animals in the future. The purpose is to optimize yield while increasing resistance to plant disease and/or tolerance to the effects of herbicides. Other prospects include modifying the very nutrients contained in foods, controlling causes of allergy, or raising the efficiency of food production systems themselves. For protection, all these modified foods should be thoroughly and appropriately screened before launching into the market. Codex guidelines by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the WHO are used to conduct risk analysis of these products (WHO).
But at present, genetically modified foods or GMOs are new and may be risky to health as their long-term effects are still unknown.
Genetic modification refers to special technologies, which modify the genetic constitution of certain organisms, including animals, plants and microorganisms (HGP 2008). Merging genes from different or separate organisms is called recombinant DNA technology, which produces GM organisms. Medicines, vaccines, foods, food ingredients, feeds and fibers are among these. A most important step or phase in the process if to seek out genes with selected traits, such as resistance to insects or specific nutrients. Genome sequencing and discovery projects and programs use data-analyzing technologies in understanding hundreds of organisms and how they can be used. In 2006 alone, it was reported that 22 countries planted GM crops in 252 million acres and many of these were resistant to herbicide and pests. The crops were soybeans, corn, cotton, canola and alfalfa. Others are rice, bananas, fish, fruit and nut trees. The United States grew 53% of these crops (HGP).
Genetic modification targets a number of benefits for crops, animals, the environment, and society (CHGE 2012, Touyz 2013). It aims at improving the taste and quality of crops; reduce their duration of maturation; increase nutrient content, production, and tolerance to all forms of stress; raise resistance level to disease, pest, and herbicides; and introduce new products and techniques for crop growth. For animals, the technology aims at increasing their resistance to disease, production, strength and maximum efficiency of their feeds; greater productivity of meat, eggs, and milk; and overall better health. GM products are expected to be environment-friendly because only bio-herbicides and bio-insecticides are used. Soil, water and energy are conserved and wastes are eliminated naturally. Most of all, the manufacture of genetically modified foods will increase the level of food security for the continuously increasing world population (CHGE, Touyz).
Genetic modification consists of inserting Bt genes from bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, which produce insect diseases, to make plants resistant to disease and tolerant of herbicides at the same time (CHGE 2012). Rice is one example of a genetically modified crop with the infusion of beta carotene, an antioxidant convertible by the liver, and reduce the amount of the rice protein, glutelin, which is not preferred for brewing sake (CHGE).
Risks and Controversies
The first of these is always safety (HGP 2008). Apprehensions include the likelihood of allergens and allergy, the transfer of antibiotic resistance from the GM products to human beings who will consume them, and other still-unknown effects. Other safety concerns are their impact on the environment. Transgenes may transfer through cross-pollination, and GM products' effects on other organisms in nature, such as soil microbes, and the plant and animal biodiversity. GM food manufacture can also encourage world dominance in food production by a few companies, greater dependence of underdeveloped countries on developed countries, and exploitation of natural resources by foreign countries or companies. Genetic modification or engineering is also ethically objectionable. It violates the integrity of natural organisms. The merging of genes between or among separate species constitutes tampering with nature, which can incur disastrous consequences. Consuming exchanged animal and plants genes is also ethically repulsive to many. And GM is stressful on animals (HGP).
Other major concerns are the effects on health when consuming genetically modified foods and GM food labeling (Maghan & Ardekani 2011). There are reports that animals fed these foods suffered harm or died. GM cottonseed and some GM…