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Genetically-modified foods (GM foods) have made a big debate since the first GM crop-tomato was put on the market in 1994 ( kennedy,2007). Most of American and Canadian have accepted genetically modified foods and thinking the advantages of GM foods outweigh their disadvantages. However,in Europe, most people have been actively protesting against genetically modified foods enter the marked, especially the United Kingdom. Reason is a professor has shown that rats ate GM potatoes causing internal organs and immune system damage in 1998, which have brought the issue of genetic engineering to the public consciousness. Similarity, human cloning technology was also denounced but then it was adapted to serve human needs (Daniel, 2002). And here I will attempt to summarize the possible benefits and hazards of genetically modified crops and explain the government's present role in regulating GM food.
There is a definition of genetically-modified foods(GM foods).GM foods are use molecular biology techniques to change certain gene in order to enhance desired features such as to increase crops nutrition (Archer and Cunningham, 2004), to reduce pesticide use and to improve yields (Whitman, 2000).
Secondary research will be used in the report, because genetic engineering technology involve professional knowledge, respondents may not have the knowledge affect this issue. I will search information from relevant past literature and studies on GM foods in the University of Liverpool Library or Internet and analysis the background and current situation of the topic. I will try to choose the sources which are more objective.
In addition , I will use questionnaire for future recommendation. Through clear understanding of consumers' cognitive attitudes and purchase intentions towards genetically modified foods will contribute to the decision-making of producers and government.
2. Benefits of genetically-modified foods
2.1 Fighting the hunger and malnutrition
Nowadays, more and more third countries and some developing countries have planted GM foods to solve the problems of disease and drought. According to FAIR research project (2002) show that a traditional European cereal crop output has increased by 18% through using genetically-modified technology. In 2006, global genetically modified crops cultivated area exceeded 100 million hectares of planting area, an increase of more than 60 times over the span of 10 years (Choudhary and Gaur 2009). For instance, the corn of normal growth cycle need six months , and the normal production has 500 tons. As the genetic changes , resulting in corns growth cycle shortens 3 months and has a double yield, namely 1000 tons (Choudhary and Gaur 2009). So many countries choose plant genetically-modified foods, because GM foods can supply the world with a steady and sufficient quantity of food through breeding and grafting technology.
In addition, genetic modification increase food nutrition to improve the added value (Whitman,2000). In the third word countries impoverished people basing on a single crop for the main staple of their diet lead to the malnutrition. However, genetically modified foods add vitamins and mineral in crops and alleviate nutrient deficiencies (Choudhary and Gaur 2009). Moreover, many tomatoes contain cancer preventing substances (Tokar, 2001), therefore giving considerable health benefits to consumers. Genetic engineering not only can speed up the growth rate of crops and livestock, but endows them with the required characteristics such as improving the nutritional value of food.
2.2 Preservation performance
Generally in optimal crop growth environment, they are high yield and high quality. But when in adverse circumstances, its production and quality occurs decline trend. But biologists change crops genes using genetic technology, even though in adverse conditions these crops can continue to grow, and they can maintain the best of yield and quality (Kerryn, 2002).
Perishable items such as fruits and vegetables are hard to preserve and easier to be influenced by seasonal factors. Genetic engineering in the food processing industry has made fresh fruits and vegetables much easier to preserve over a long time and solved the problems of being influenced by externall factors, such as climate changed, geographical features (Paul,1999).
2.3 Avoiding over-application of fertilizer and herbicides
Fertilizer and herbicides are the basic material used in agriculture. Fertilizer is an element in increasing crop yields, and solving the starvation over the world. However, over-application of fertilizer not only has perpetually effects on farms but also injures the neighbouring ecosystem. Many scientific studies suggest that a long history of fertilizer used can reduce soil fertility and reduce agricultural productivity (Nordlee,1996). Herbicides are used to remove weeds, which not only need a large of chemical herbicides with large costs but causing pollution of groundwater (Kerryn .2002) .
However, GM crops can be produced to be herbicide resistant (Kerryn .2002). This means that the amount of herbicide used in one season would be reduced, with a subsequent reduction in costs for farmers and consumers, without affecting the crop. Moreover, GM foods have another benefits for human ,such as increased crop cold tolerance. However, Environmental activists, public interest groups and other scientists have defy these benefits due to the characteristic of inherently and unpredictable which GM foods contain ,their concern on potential human health risks and environment pollution in the future (Paul, 1999).
3. Hazards of genetically-modified foods
3.1 Human health risks
Allergenic reaction maybe happen when introduced a gene into a plant using genetic engineering technology. Scientists will put corn's gene and its proteins into wheat, walnut and shellfish genes, resulting in some people eat corn with an allergic reaction as well as having an allergic to these changed walnut, wheat and shellfish (Paul,1999).
In addition, GM foods may contain antibiotics resistant. When scientists put a foreign gene into the plants producing new gene which has the characteristic of antibiotic residence. People taking the improvement of food will cause drug-resistant genes to pathogenic bacteria. For la long time, resulting to less able to fight diseases, even die, and cures become less effective (Kennedy,2007).
Moreover, with the popularity of GM foods, giving rise to a variety of new diseases, and half of these are unknown (Tokar,2001). Some researchers think that the gene with refining and artificial may add to some factors which people want to achieve the effect, but also increases and accumulated toxins in food (Whitman, 2000). In a word ,GM food may have an unexpected and negative impact on human health.
3.2 Potential danger to the environment
In many genetically modified varieties contain extracted from coli bacteria gene, which can produce a kind of insect pest and poisonous protein. In a laboratory studies (Choudhary and Gaur, 2009), 44% of caterpillars (a kind of the larva of a butterfly) died when fed amounts of pollen from GM foods , which caused ecologists' another worry, that is produced new species followed by another corp may be hurt.
According to Mitchell (1999) argued that producing GM foods may disturb the ecological balance and unnatural, affectting the growth of surrounding plants. When changed plant's gene to get a new plant that maybe damage the ecological balance, goes against nature, the threat of biological more, even some animal or plant endangered. Yet, insects or bacteria may increase in the evolution of resistance. Some plants having been modified which not only have insect resistance capability, but also may derive a some of pesticides having antibody of super pests, hurt conventional crops. Genetically engineered crops of pollen and seeds might accidentally spread to neighboring near field, make similar traditional breed change, such as the weeds in the genes from herbicide, may become "superweeds" (Tokar,2001).
In conclusion, it appears that genetically modified foods have the potential to solve many of the world's hunger and malnutrition problems and to help farmers to preserve fruit and vegetable over a long time,and avoiding over-application of chemical pesticides and herbicides. However, pursuing interests as well as paying attention to avoid causing potential harm to human health and the environment. This requires government regulate GM food market,pay attention safety testing and food labeling.