Newspapers frequently carry stories about genetically modified food. The biotechnology agricultural age is occurring. Scientists had an idea to make food have better appearance, growth, and taste. In genetic engineering you take the best food available and add the few characters you are interested in so that you’re breeding efficiency is increased. The last century was a time of big changes in genetic engineering. Humanity made huge steps toward creating new life. Experiments with creating human were not successful, but the whole world was watching the experiment with sheep Dooley, which became first cloned animal.
It was first such a big succeeded experiment and as a result almost everyone knew the last news about the sheep. However a big achievement was made in modifying new plants and crops. In the 21st century genetically modified products already became a part of our life. Every day new genetic products appear in shops and it becomes harder to find healthy food which does not contain any added chemical components. Apples during the winter time, oranges which become ripe twice faster than their period of ripening and tomato bushes which can survive very cold weather prove that biological world had experienced a lot of changes.
Experiments are being made, new plants are being produced for a quite a long period of time, however genetically modified products is one of the hotly debatable topics today. The benefits of gene technology in terms of food production are enormous. The most common genetically engineered crops contain modifications that make the plants resistant to certain diseases and herbicides, or allow them to produce their own pesticides, thereby eliminating or reducing the need to spray.
So-called "Bt corn," for example, contains a gene resistant to the harmful mycotoxin fungus and herbicide producers, Monsanto have created a strain of soybeans genetically modified to be unaffected by their product Roundup. The soybean farmer therefore can avoid targeting specific weeds and require just one application of a general weed-killer, reducing costs and agricultural waste run-off. Genetically modified crops are also being adapted to grow in salty, dry or frosty environments, contain edible vaccines, have a longer shelf life and be more nutritious.
A group of Swiss and German scientists recently developed a strain of GM rice known as ‘golden rice’ due to its altered color. Containing genes that produce a unusually high amount of beta-carotene (vitamin A), this rice could be a solution to the thousands of poor children in Asia who eat little but rice and go blind or die from lack of vitamin A. Public reaction to the use of recombinant DNA in genetic engineering however has been mixed. Sliding US export commodities such as genetically modified soybeans and corn have highlighted hardened public opinion and widespread resistance to biotech crops, especially in the European Union.
Concerns about GM foods fall into three categories: economics, environmental hazards and human health risks. The latter two have been the subject of hot debate, both in Australia and overseas. Environmental damage from GM crops can be caused through various channels. One of the main concerns has been the possibility of gene transfer to a non-target species, that is crops engineered for herbicide tolerance and weeds cross-breeding, resulting in the transfer of the herbicide resistance to create ‘super weeds’.
In addition, environmentalists fear that transgenic plants may proliferate rapidly, pollinating natural plants in their surroundings eliminating existing species. Further environmental suspicions include those of unintended harm to other organisms and of the reduced effectiveness of pesticides once insects become tolerant to a crop’s natural pesticide. Questions have also been raised on the human impact of genetically modified organisms.
Critics of recombinant DNA fear that the pathogenic, or disease-producing organisms used in some recombinant DNA experiments might develop extremely infectious forms that could cause worldwide epidemics. Likewise, the unknown effect of foreign genes introduced into GM food crops in terms of human health also presents a controversial issue. Furthermore, there is a possibility that introducing a gene into a plant may create a new allergen or cause an allergic reaction in susceptible individuals. A proposal to incorporate a gene from Brazil nuts into soybeans in order to increase their nutritional value was abandoned hen it was found that the genetically engineered soybeans caused an allergic reaction in people sensitive to Brazil nuts. For these reasons, extensive testing and labeling of GM foods may be required to avoid the possibility of harm to consumers with food allergies. Biotechnology has started to revolutionize food production, with fantastic results. With the world population of 6 billion expected to double in the next 50 years and an adequate food supply becoming a major challenge it will no doubt continue to do so in the future.