Discuss the impact of genetically-modified food on the quality of human health. There has been much public concern and speculation about the issue of Genetically Modified (GM) foods whether it is helpful or harmful on human subject. GM organism can be defined as organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been altered through selective breeding in order to confer upon them novel useful characteristics for example, GM plants, which utilized to develop genetically modified (GM) food crops (Kreuzer and Massey, 2005). Initial media reports claimed that all GM foods were inherently unsafe to human health because some of the proteins inserted in GM plants were proved to be a major allergen to humans as well as can cause cancer, however some people believe that GM foods improved human life since it can solve malnutrition problems and provide nutraceutical benefits to human.
Furthermore, opponents of GM food argued that GM food may harm human's health since it may inadvertly transfer allergen, a protein in the food which triggers the production of allergen-specific antibodies, much like the immune response to other antigens. Beginning in 1996, gene methionine-rich 2S albumin from Brazil nut was artificially inserted to the DNA of soybeans to improve methionine level in soybeans (Heredia, 2009). Based on the evidence collected over the past decades, these unlabelled GM foods caused the huge jump in childhood food allergies. In addition, the study shows that people with allergies to Brazil nuts could also be allergic to soybeans since 2S albumin inserted in GM soybeans is a major Brazil-nut allergen. Thus the scientists concluded that any food known to have capabilities of triggering allergic response can be transferred into another food through genetic engineering (Nordlee, 1996).
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Besides that, some people debated that GM food is unsafe to human since it can cause chronic diseases such as cancer. For example, the use of viral DNA CaMV 35S in GM cauliflower gene raised a lot of controversies. The research found that CaMV 35S promoter is infectious and reproduce more rapidly in the plant than it is in the virus. In other word, if the promoter is inserted into cauliflower DNA, then it will grow rapidly in the cauliflower cells and even faster than when it is in the virus. Thus by eating a virus-infected head of cauliflower, human indirectly transferred thousands or billions viral DNA into their body. In addition, the situation getting worse if these viral cells are taken by our cell, because it may reactivate dormant viruses, hence generate new viruses and cause cancer. Besides that, cross-links the strand DNA of toxic psolarens applied in GM Celery plants also believed to cause cancer (Fedoroff and Brown, 2004).
On the other hand, in most of the developing countries, this technology is seen as an opportunity to solve problems regarding human malnutrition such as Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) through the invention of Golden Rice that riched in β-Carotene. Every year, approximately one to two millions of children died from severe VAD, hence the scientists believed that this problem would be solved better by adding more vitamin A to diets that heavily dependent on rice since rice are the primary food for people with the most significant vitamin A deficiency problem. To create Golden Rice, scientists incorporated genes from two species, the daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus , and a bacterium, Erminia uredovora that provided genes for β-Carotene synthesis pathway into the rice genome. As the result, a cup of the engineered rice seeds which is the grains of Golden Rice has enough β-Carotene to satisfy a person's daily recommended amount of vitamin A (Starr, Evers, and Starr, 2011).
Moreover, GM advocates believe that GM foods have high potential to provide nutraceutical benefits to human by inserting genes expressing antigens of the major pathogens into food crops. For example, genetic engineering has made it possible to use bananas as the sources of vaccine which encoded antibodies molecules for rotavirus antigens, NSP4 that acts as a viral enterotoxin. Rotaviruses may cause severe diarrhea and deny ration in infants (Institute of Medicine, 2000). Another successful experiment made by the scientist in year 2000 using the potato as the antibody sources of Norwalk virus capsid protein was proven to be both tolerated and immunogenic, whereby almost all volunteers developing a significant and positive immune response (Mahy and Regenmortel, 2010).
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In conclusion, GM foods are actually helpful to human subject in the ways that they solve malnutrition problems and provide nutraceutical benefits to human; however it may also be harmful to human if they trigger the development of cancerous cells and inadvertly transfer allergen to human body. Therefore, in order to reduce potential risks from the release of GM foods, bacteria cells should be used instead of using the viral DNA in GM plant crops to avoid unintended harm to human health. In the meantime, more researches and toxicity tests should be conducted properly to ensure that newly improved GM foods that are less allergenicity as well as safe for human consumption could be succesfully made.