You may not need to overload yourself with detailed information on how GM organisms are created in the laboratory. However, to help you understand exactly what this article is all about, a clear example should be useful.
There’s a bacteria that lives in soil known as Bacillus thuringiensis that produces a toxic substance that kills pests on food crops (corn and soybeans, for example). You could say that it contains organic and natural pesticide. Somehow, scientist familiar with genetic engineering realized that they could take the toxin-producing gene from the bacteria and introduce it into crops. After a few tries, a crop strain that produces the natural pesticide was found and proven to be more resistant to attacks from ravenous insects. The tofu we eat today could contain genetically modified genes.
You might be curious, is it a bad thing? Soybeans that doesn’t get obliterated by bugs in the field seems like a good idea.
Unfortunately, the toxic substance that’s produced by the soybeans could accumulate in our bodies, and it is difficult to say what are its long-term impacts. What is even more distressing is that the genetic material that causes the soy to produce natural pesticide can be transferred to the genetic structure of native bacteria that inhabit your intestines, and they may continue making toxin for decades. And the possible problems don’t stop right here. In many cases, GM food products have been shown to threaten us with health problems, including:
o Fragments of genetic material from GM crops have been found throughout the body and even brain of cattle that have been fed GM foods.
o Foreign proteins found in GM food products can cause mild to severe allergic reactions. In some countries, the incidence of soy allergies jump to about 50 percent after GM soy was made available.
o A couple of years ago, a supplement that uses GM materials were released to the public without proper tests. Before it was withdrawn off the market, it might be linked to nearly 40 deaths and thousands of other reported health problem cases. You should think hard about how GM foods can affect your family, and find a way to limit the amount consumed and if possible eliminate GM foods that could already be present in your daily diet.
GM foods often look similar with unmodified foods, so it can be tricky to tell whether a food product contains GM ingredient, especially if you are shopping for food products in countries with advanced agriculture technology, such as United States. There is an exception, though, for example the European Union, all GM food products must be properly labeled to let buyers know that they contain GM ingredients. When you are trying to determine which foods that contain GM ingredients, it is a good idea to know which animals and plants are usually modified. The most common are soybeans and corn – two of the most important calories sources in many countries. Recent estimates show that roughly three-fourth of soybean crops and about a quarter the corn crops have been genetically modified in the U.S. That’s a vast amount of food! Both crops are used to produce many different kinds of food ingredients that are used in processed foods (for example, high fructose corn syrup and soybean oil are found on many processed foods in the grocery store). Some scientists say that when we add up all the GM foods that are made with GM ingredients, nearly 80 percent of foods that are sold in grocery store in the U.S. contain genetically modified ingredients in some extent.
The GM foods blitz doesn’t stop at soybeans and corn. Several other crops are regularly tinkered with at their genetic level, including wheat, rice, alfalfa, squash, papaya, tomatoes, canola, sugar cane, sugar beets, cantaloupe, flax and potatoes. This is not a comprehensive list by any means, as it’s next to impossible to obtain accurate information about which crops that have been modified genetically. The reviews and regulations of genetic modification on food products are lax and sparse at best. And it isn’t limited to plants. Major bio-tech companies are now producing GM animals, too. Until now, cows, goats, fish, and pigs have been genetically modified to enhance some of their benefits for human and for now it seems that trend isn’t slowing down. Just like with GM plants, too few rules or regulations exist to curtail the use of GM animal-derived ingredients for food in the U.S., so it can be really tough to know what has been genetically modified and what hasn’t. So what you should do when entering a grocery store and find shelves of foods that are likely have been tinkered genetically? In some countries, there are no requirements for GM foods. The real surefire way is to ensure you are not buying or consuming GM foods is to find a “100 percent organic.” label. That’s actually a viable practice to follow whenever you have the opportunity.
Many people are really concerned about genetic engineering and the impact it may have on current and future generations. Today, no researches exist to tell us whether changes can happen to human being and environment due to the GM revolution. But it is encouraged to look for latest information on GM food products so you can determine quickly whether certain products are known to be harmful for your health and the environment.