With today’s technology, genetic engineering in foods, we can grow and harvest fruits and vegetables all year round. And even make them more plump and juicy compared to their wild counterparts. This technology is all possible due to years of study and experimentation. Nowadays, we can always get the fruit or vegetable we want, anytime, even though it is not in season. We can eat tropical fruits, although we live in the north, and farmers can always have a bountiful harvest anytime.
All thanks to genetic engineering, with this, we can always assure that the produce we get is still fresh, free from plant diseases, and is healthier to eat. Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) might be a controversial topic for some. But it is evident that GMO has a significant impact on our society, especially on our food issue. Of course, just like all things, GMO also has some adverse effects as well.
So, what is genetically modified or engineered foods? What do we know about them? What are their benefits and risks? To find out more, we need to know first what are they.
Genetic Engineering aka GMO
GMO, or Genetically Modified Organisms, are essential organisms which have their DNA being altered to introduce new traits. Genes from other plants are implanted to a specific plant so that it can acquire a particular characteristic. It similarly adds a particular gene to apples so that they can be fresh for a more extended period. Or they are introducing a gene to eggplants so that they can better cope with colder temperatures. GMO is also possible in animals as well.
GMO is more akin to creating a character in an online role-playing game. We get to choose our specific traits and characteristics to better suit our needs, without having any risk in the process.
Benefits of Genetic Engineering in foods
There are a lot of benefits that we can get from foods that are genetically modified may include:
- Crops are genetically modified to be more resistant to diseases and other parasites. These genetically modified crops are beneficial because farmers can save millions of dollars every year.
- Fewer resources like water, space, and pesticides are needed to grow these plants. Compared to the organic ones that need certain pesticides and soil conditions to grow correctly and this will make farmers conserve more energy and resources to
- With fewer resources needed, such as pesticides, farmers can assure that their soil where they grow their plants are not contaminated. Caused by harmful compounds found in pesticides, which can help reduce dirt and water pollution.
- GMOs also prevent wasting of food. Other crops, like potatoes and tomatoes, may get bruises or may damaged due to shipping and handling. Also, GMOs tend to have a longer shelf life than its organic counterpart.
- GMO can be more nutritious than their organic counterpart due to specific traits because of the introduction of additional nutrients and minerals to the crops.
- Due to its ease, GMO can be the answer to stop world hunger.
Disadvantages of Genetic Engineering in Foods
Of course, there are some disadvantages to these too, like:
- It is a controversial issue in the use of animals in testing. And some organizations such as the Organic Consumers Association and Non-GMO project are against it.
- GMO crops can contaminate other plants since pollination is still present for reproduction. Thus, this can result in cross-pollination which does not have any predictable or definite result in both plants.
- Since these crops are tolerant to the herbicide, this encourages more to use these chemicals since it will not harm their crops. Thus, this will result in the soil being contaminated by these chemicals. And will eventually reach bodies of water, adding up to our planet’s pollution problem.
- GMO crops can become a threat to the environment especially if they are introduced into the wild. These GMO crops can contaminate local fauna thru pollination and may cause abnormalities to local plants, on which local fauna relies for food.
Genetically Modified Organisms indeed can be the solution to our planet’s hunger problems and our demand for fresh produce. It is important first to know the benefits and disadvantages of this method. So that we can have enough food for everyone, while not providing any harm not just to ourselves but to the environment too. In this way, we can get the perfect balance of food sustainability and environmental safety.