"To many scientists, gene technology is just another agricultural tool to help us grow bigger and better crops and livestock. But to others, like environmentalists and consumer advocates, the genetic manipulation (also known as genetic engineering) of the plants and animals we eat poses huge risks that might not be worth taking."
In the last thirty years global demand for food has doubled and it is predicted that if the population continues to grow so rapidly, we will eventually end up with a world wide food shortage. In a race to feed the planet, scientists have discovered how to manipulate DNA. Genetic modification involves a gene from one plant or animal being transferred into another plant or animal.
Genetically Modified (GM) Foods have been designed to yield more by being be hardier, to withstand severe weather, pests, and the stresses of shipping and long-term storage. For example, the gene that makes a plant tolerate drought conditions can be inserted into the gene of a plant that does not.
With genetic modification the good features of one food can be incorporated into another food, which can help to improve the nutritional value, appearance, shelf life and processing of food. It is claimed that genetic modification could also protect the environment, as fewer chemicals are needed to combat pests.
The practice of genetic modification is a currently debated and many people are concerned with the possible health and environmental risks.
The major concerns to human health include
tendencies to provoke allergic reaction (to the transfered gene)
gene transfer (for example: antibiotic resistant genes transferred into the human digestive system)
outcrossing (crossing with genes from wild or foreign crops which have not been tested for human consumption)
The environmental safety aspects of GM crops vary considerably according to local conditions.The major environmental concerns are are to do with altering natural ecosystems. If a GM species escapes into the wild, the natural ecosystems will change forever causing possible extinction of some species and plagues of other species.
In Australia Genetic modification is banned apart from soy and cotton crops as it it uncertain what the long term effects of the process will be. Products which are made overseas and then imported into Australia can contain genetically modified ingredients provided they be identified on their labelling.The Food Standards Australia NewZealand (FSANZ) has developed a rigorous process for assessing the safety of GM foods in Australia. This assessment ensures that any approved GM foods are as safe and nutritious as comparable conventional foods already in the Australian and New Zealand food supply.
Feasibility and methods for post-marketing monitoring of GM food products, for the continued surveillance of the safety of GM food products, are under discussions.
TASK 3: Genetic Modification 1. Contribute to the Class Blog Discussion 2: Do you agree with Genetic Modification? Write 100 words on the blog to state your reasons for or against. You may also comment on other peoples opinion in order to provoke discussion. I do not agree with Genetic Modification, it is not natural and has the potential to harm the environment and unbalance ecosystems in horrific ways. Already there has been many complications associated with genetic modification where the insects in the areas that had been genetically modified have all died off, unbalancing the food chain. As well as this there are many concerns associated with unintended harm to other surrounding organisms, reduced effectiveness of pesticides and gene transfer to non-target species in the case where herbicide resistance genes could be transferred to weeds. Because of all these concerns Australia has banned genetic modification to all plants with the exceptions of canola and cotton. I strongly believe that genetic modification is an unnatural and unhealthy approach to maker faster produce, especially for a country that already wastes 1/3 of its food produce.
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