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Nowadays the there various kind of issues that arroused in our country, Malaysia and most probably the issues strongly related to the food industry. For my essay, i will focus on the issue of innovation in food technology by the used of biotechnology. In order to produce healthy food formulation at the same time nutritious food, various traditional food technologies have been advanced and new technologies developed efficeintly. Recently, there is an important aspect of innovation in food technology in order to translate nutrition information into a product. (Deliza, Rosenthal & Silva, 2003).
The issue of innovation in food technology very aspire me to develop more on it because I have found one article from the The Star online newspaper which regarding the improving on food quality. Accoding to that article the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus is developing new technologies aimed at ensuring the food that we grow is nutritious and safe for consumption. In fact, the Centre of Excellent for Post-Harvest Biotechnology (CEPB) led by Dr Asgar Ali who is expert in post-harvest biology and technology said that. the purpose of the centre is creating new technologies that could decreasing food looses, increasing overall quality and safety of the food. The major reason is to increase the profit to marketers and growers and the make availability of the quality and nutritious food to consumers.
Biotechnology uses biological systems, living organisms, or components of organisms to make or modify products or processes for specific uses. For centuries farmers have improved crop plants by traditional breeding techniques, but since thousands of genes are mixed every time two plants are crossed, the outcome of the cross-breeding is random and difficult to control because unwanted characteristics are passed on to the new crop along with the desired ones. Therefore, this traditional cross-breeding can take place only between closely-related species. Modern crop breeders, however, can select a specific genetic trait from any plant, or even from an animal source, and transfer it into the genetic code of another plant through modern biotechnology.
In addition, Some people feel that the effects of Genetically Modified (GM) crops on human health are not yet adequately understood. There are concerns about the use of viral DNA during the modification process, and some question whether there would be new health risks if genes introduced in a GM crop were to be taken up by the human body. The safety of GM crops is often assessed by comparison with the closest conventional counterpart. All in all, the main issue regarding biotechnology in food production is whether genetically modified technologies is safe to consume and it is still to be resolved even after the enactment of the Biosafety Act 2007 (Phuoc, 2012)
This issue give the big impact on the social, economic and political factors. In a modern society, people desire both good health and endurance and hence demand nutritious and functional food that promotes their wellbeing, enjoyment, and active lifestyle. Today, there are widely used of biotechnology in food production and we as a consumer does not know whether the food that we consume is safe to consume or not.
Basically, biotechnology can contribute to future food security if it benefits sustainable small-farm agriculture in developing countries. Significant deviation exists in everyone’s opinions about biotechnology. Although there is wide support in health benefits for plant biotechnology, but still have differ views on the issue of animal genetics for economic gains. While some are conflicting to it, many are unsolve about genetically modified foods.
There are concerns that the application of GM crops might direct to a reduction in biodiversity (the variety of plants and animals in the wild), Mainly in areas where the crop is originated and a broad range of natural genetic diversification is found. There might also be unexpected consequences of gene transfer (or ‘gene flow’) between plants, for example an irretrievable or uncontrollable ‘escape’ of genes into neighbouring wild plants by pollen. The concern arise regarding that pests or weeds could acquire resistance to crops (Anonymous 2, 2003).
The other effect to the social is regarding the human health towards this issue. Allergenicity, many children in the United State and Europe have suffurred from life-threatening allergies to peanuts and other foods. There is a high possibility that introducing a gene into a plant may create a new allergen or cause an allergic reaction in susceptible individuals. Therefore, a proposal to integrate a gene from Brazil nuts into soybeans was deserted in order to avoid unexpected allergic reactions. There is a growing concern that introducing foreign genes into food plants may have an unexpected and negative impact on human health.
A recent article published in Lancet examined the effects of GM potatoes on the digestive tract in rats.. There were significant differences in the intestines of rats fed GM potatoes and rats fed normal potatoes Yet critics say that this paper, like the monarch butterfly data, is flawed and does not hold up to scientific analysis. Moreover, the gene inserted into the potatoes known as snowdrop flower lectin and this substances can cause toxic to mammals.
Biotechnology may offer a way out of this dependence on unsustainable agriculture by eventually producing crop plants that enable agriculture to sustain yields but minimize environmental impacts. But the perception in Europe is that some of the present generation of genetically modified (GM) crops, especially those developed for the US agricultural situation, which are herbicide- tolerant and insect-resistant, may present yet further risks to biodiversity in our present intensive agricultural system.
Instead of influencing social, the biotechnology in food also will affect the economic as well by bringing a GM food to market is a lengthy and costly process, and of course agri-biotech companies wish to ensure a profitable return on their investment. Many new plant genetic engineering technologies and GM plants have been patented, and patent infringement is a big concern of agribusiness (Whitman, 2000) . Yet consumer advocates are worried that patenting these new plant varieties will raise the price of seeds so high that small farmers and third world countries will not be able to afford seeds for GM crops, thus widening the gap between the wealthy and the poor. It is hoped that in a humanitarian gesture, more companies and non-profits will follow the lead of the Rockefeller Foundation and offer their products at reduced cost to impoverished nations.
Patent enforcement may also be difficult, as the contention of the farmers that they involuntarily grew Monsanto-engineered strains when their crops were cross-pollinated shows. One way to combat possible patent infringement is to introduce a “suicide gene” into GM plants. These plants would be viable for only one growing season and would produce sterile seeds that do not germinate. Farmers would need to buy a fresh supply of seeds each year. However, this would be financially disastrous for farmers in third world countries who cannot afford to buy seed each year and traditionally set aside a portion of their harvest to plant in the next growing season. In an open letter to the public, Monsanto has pledged to abandon all research using this suicide gene technology (Whitman, 2000).
The last implication regarding political factors. To date, there is no evidence that any harm has come to anyone of the millions of people around the world in the last decade who have eaten foods derived from biotechnology. Regulatory authorities in the region closely monitor the safety of all foods including foods produced through biotechnology. The Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization have established procedures to determine the safety of biotechnology products and these procedures are met or exceeded by regulatory systems around the world. Countries such as the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Korea, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Romania and the European. Union have all used their regulatory process to determine the food safety of at least one product of biotechnology.
Developments in food biotechnology have had numerous impacts on how food is produced, packaged, tested and preserved as whole it give big impact to the food industry. Many of the changes have meant undisputable improvements to our safety and health, while others are more controversial. For example, by using the biotechnology in food processing in where plastic wraps that prevent food from spoiling inhibit the growth of bacteria, and some are even edible. Natural antibiotic substances derived from sources such as cloves, oregano, thyme and paprika have been combined with controlled-release biodegradable polymers (smart polymers) to create plastics that can prevent biofilm formation resulting high quality of food products in the market.
In the area of food manufacturing, the use of biotechnology falls into four main categories, namely: 1) foods consisting of or containing viable organisms; 2) foods obtained from or containing ingredients obtained from GMOs; 3) foods containing single ingredients or additives produced by genetically modified microorganisms (GMMs); and 4) foods containing ingredients processed by enzymes produced by GMMs (Hsieh and Ofori, 2007).
The food industry plays a vital role in shaping consumers’ attitudes and appetite for new food items. This is particularly true for the products developed with biotechnology. Opponents have waged an aggressive campaign to pressure the industry into publicly rejecting biotechnology. In such cases, companies have been forced to take steps against their own beliefs and long- term interests (Thomas, 2000).
Their main concerns involve lack of consumer acceptance — not the safety of the foods. They express high levels of confidence in the science and the regulatory process. In fact, almost none feel that biotechnology should not be used because of uncertain, potential risks. Most food industry leaders do not feel it is necessary to have special labels on foods developed through biotechnology. They express concerns that such labels would be perceived as a warning by consumers. They also worried that the need to segregate commodities would pose financial and logistical burdens on everyone in the system including consumers. Food industry leaders recognize a major need to educate the public about biotechnology. They look to third parties, such as university and government scientists to provide such leadership.
Many solutions that could be done to make sure that the isssue regarding biotechnology in food can be overcome. From my point of view, one of the best way is extensive testing of GM foods may be required to avoid the possibility of harm to consumers with food allergies. Plus, labeling of GM foods and food products will acquire new importance. According to Whitman (2000) , Labeling of GM foods and food products is also a contentious issue. On the whole, agribusiness industries believe that labeling should be voluntary and influenced by the demands of the free market. If consumers show preference for labeled foods over nonlabeled foods, then industry will have the incentive to regulate itself or risk alienating the customer. Consumer interest groups, on the other hand, are demanding mandatory labeling. People have the right to know what they are eating, argue the interest groups, and historically industry has proven itself to be unreliable at self-compliance with existing safety regulations.
preventing outcrossing by engineering pollen incompatibility and other mechanisms into crops. This could significantly reduce the risk of spread of GM traits into native species. On the other hand, achieving insect resistance by altering physical characteristics of plants, perhaps by increasing hairiness or thickening the plant cuticle. This could reduce insecticide use, without using in-plant toxins. Securing fungal resistance in adult plants by “switching on” resistance genes that are active in the seed, but not currently in adult plants.This seems to be an elegant and safe use of biotechnology which could lead to significant reductions in fungicide use.
Research shows that consumers will accept biotech foods if they see a benefit to themselves or society and if the price is right. Their responses to foods developed through biotechnology are basically the same as for any other food: taste, nutrition, price, safety and convenience are the major factors that influence our decisions about which foods to eat. How seeds and food ingredients are developed will only be relevant for a relatively small group of concerned, consumers. The food industry needs to focus on what it does best: namely producing and distributing value added foods that consumers want.
Given that we have only one planet, more people to feed and fewer resources available – what shall we do? A smart way would be to use the tools we have at our disposal to better adapt to future changes and invest in those innovative solutions. We have the technology. We have the infrastructure. The rules and regulations are already in place. Must we have a crisis before we act in Europe?
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