Genetically Modified Foods Within The African Continent Biology Essay

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In this essay I will cover the topic of genetically modified foods in an African continent ,their advantages, disadvantages , the break through's made by scientists into current trends and what risks are involved for the economy of an African country as well as the risk to the consumer.

Genetically modified foods are foods which have undergone genetic changes to their DNA either for a specific characteristic to be enhances or for increased nutritional value; this is done by means of genetically engineering the organism or by use of biotechnology.

Genetically modified foods were first made available in the 1900s, with foods like soybeans and plants such as cotton.


USA-The USA are the developers of this form of biotechnology and have seen many crops such as the cotton pant, Soya beans and a large variety of pest resistant crops, the USA has also produced temperature resistant crops as a result these crops are far stronger than their natural production. Engineering of live stock has been conducted and recently has been declared fit for customer consumption.

Canada-Canada seems the most advanced in terms of commercial sales of genetically modified foods, starting with modifying crops Canada is now starting to genetically engineer live animals.

Argentina-The production of soya beans for the past few years has been Argentina's greatest contribution to the genetically modified foods world. This form of soya is said to have a far lower sensitivity to drought and yield a better quality crop.

Mexico-Producing genetically modified maize crops .A debate amongst farmers was experienced during the implementation of these crops as they are said to originate from the southern region of the country.

China-Sowing genetically modified rice that has been given clearance to be sold commercially. The rice contains 2 different types of proteins that are helpful in pest resistance.


Types of genetically modified foods:

Genetically modified organisms (GM)

Example: Pesticide resistant crops

Genetically engineered organism (GE)

Example: Blocking of a particular trait in a crop

Transgenic organisms

Example: The inclusion of the genetic material from one organism to help prevent disease from entering another organism.




Genetically modified food in the North-South divide and its capability of surviving in Africa:

Genetically modified foods in Africa, southern Africa in particular, is becoming more and more a topic of debate in terms of how a developing country will benefit from these new developments versus the outcome genetically modified foods brought to a developed country.

A developing country which gains and large part of its national income from exports may find itself struggling to produce the quality of goods necessary as well as the large quantity demanded.

The economy runs the risk of having a short-fall on exports and may still need to make use of imports which will cost an economy in a considerable manner.

{Clark, N, Stokes, K & Mugabe, J, 2002- Biotechnology and developments. Threats and promises for the 21st century, futures, 34:785-186}

In terms of the technology needed to fully implement a genetically modified foods production system, a developing country would not be able to comfortably sustain its financial adequacies at the level needed as well as keep production of crops at a healthy level.

On the other hand if a developing country does choose to take the risk of producing these foods they stand to benefit tremendously from their production as they will be able to more effectively deal distribute foods of a debatably called "better" quality as when in the process of producing these foods mass production is possible .These food can then be sold at a higher price due to their enhanced characteristics, size etc.

This can therefore significantly make up for the expenditure used in order to set genetically modified foods into action.

South Africa itself already commercially sells a form of genetically modified cotton and yellow maize which are resistant to pesticides.

This is due to thee being no ruling legislation against the growth, use or sale of these genetically modified foods.

As the implementation of genetically modified foods enhances the economy will come to see a positive effect as a result of genetically modified foods, thereby establishing that genetically modified foods are beneficial to the country and also beneficial to the people as starvation and poverty are urgent problems. These genetically modified crops have hopes to be sold at a lower cost than some naturally grown crops which will benefit those approaching the poverty line.


Concerns and risks of genetically modified foods:

Many elements of genetically modified foods pose threats and concerns to the modern-day society.

Firstly, the environmental impact of genetically modified foods has raised concern among groups of people who believe that by engineering crops and organisms you are taking away the natural aspect of food production whether it is in the sphere of crops or organisms, and the environment no longer gains the same benefit from these types of crops and/or organisms.

Secondly, are the food safety risks poses to those who may consume these genetically modified foods.

Consumers of genetically modified foods can range from humans to animals.

This concern is the recurring among the foods which boast a specific characteristic of a crop; it is thought to be the beginning of potential new allergies.

A common worry among human consumers or sceptics is that the genetically modified crops could possibly carry toxic compounds which may have an effect on ingestion.

Lastly, medicinal health risks,

As certain genetically modified foods are capable of creating a resistance to antibiotics within the crops they are being developed in, the potential risk being demonstrated is that of a transfer of the antibiotic resistance to the humans that consume the crops in question.

{Frewer, L, Lassen,J, Kettlitz,B, Scholderter, J,Beekman, V & Berdal, KG, 2004- Societal aspects of genetically modified foods, Food and chemical toxicology, 42:1181-1193}

{Clark, N, Stokes, K & Mugabe, J, 2002- Biotechnology and developments. Threats and promises for the 21st century, futures, 34:785-186}

Benefits of genetically modified foods:

There are many benefits that come with genetically modified foods such as;

Crops can be genetically modified to be pesticide resistant, disease resistant as well as herbicide resistant and thereby yield better quality crops; this in turn has a large benefit to the farmer of the crops who can gain a much higher return for his crop.

A largely anticipated benefit of genetically modified foods is their nutritional value to those who consume them, in the context of the African continent this is the greatest benefit that can be seen, as much of the continent lives among famine and poverty, genetically modified foods can significant change this difficult matter because genetically modified foods are produced in mass production in order for these goods to be sold at a cheaper rate for this very reason, it makes accessibility and consumption of genetically modified foods possibly for all, even those in developing countries without comfortable financial situations.

Among other daily worries in the 21st century, global warming and drastic temperature changes plague farmers as their crops bear the brunt of these effects. Genetically modified crops however can be drought tolerant and cold tolerant. Although this does not give the certainty that if an extreme situation is reaches that the crop will yield fruit, it does however limit the damage of these situations.


{Clark, N, Stokes, K & Mugabe, J, 2002- Biotechnology and developments. Threats and promises for the 21st century, futures, 34:785-186}

In conclusion,

Genetically modified foods hold great promise for the future and also leave unsettling risks which leads one to ask whether the incorporation of genetically modified foods will be advancement within the African continent or will it merely set the developing countries back further?

The answer to this question lies solely in the hands of the consumer and their own perception and experience of genetically modified foods.

{Frewer, L, Lassen,J, Kettlitz,B, Scholderter, J,Beekman, V & Berdal, KG, 2004- Societal aspects of genetically modified foods, Food and chemical toxicology, 42:1181-1193}