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Genetically modified foods have been proven safe but the hysteria surrounding them has been unfounded and highly questionable.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Walk through the aisles of any grocery store. Sit down to eat in just about any restaurant, school cafeteria, workplace lunchroom, hospital, or airplane. Open your cupboards and refrigerator. Look at what's cooking in your oven, microwave, or frying pan, or what's on your fork, your spoon, in your cup or drinking glass... You can't see, smell, taste or feel the difference. And you can't read about it on food labels or restaurant menus. But you and your family are now part of a vast culinary and biological experiment-dining on an expanding menu of genetically modified foods. Foods that are unlike any foods consumed in human history.(Cummins & Lilliston, 2000, p. ii). Genetically modified foods have been proven safe but the hysteria surrounding them has been unfounded and highly questionable. Definitions To understand anything surrounding science it is good to define a few definitions. There are many different names surrounding genetically modified foods, but they reflect the many language biases of the countries they originated from. Taken from the book, Genetically Engineered Food: A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers the following definitions are define: a) Genetically engineered (GE) is the standard U.S. term for a process in which foreign genes are spliced into a non-related species, creating an entirely new organism. b) Genetically modified (GM) is the same as GE, but this term is more widely used in Europe because it translates more easily among different languages. c) Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are the actual organism that is created through genetic engineering. d) Biotech foods, gene-foods, bioengineered foods, gene-altered foods, transgenic foods are foods that have been created through genetic engineering. e) Frankenfoods is another term for the above, and it refers to the story of Frankenstein and science gone bad. History of Genetically Modified Foods The first real discovery that later lead to genetically modifying organisms was the cross fertilizing of corn in 1724. ...read more.

Middle

Examples like this make people second guess whether genetically modified foods are safe. Some people think that if some of the genes in genetically modified crops are accidentally transferred and they were to get into our bodies that the effects could be fatal. One cannot exactly be proven wrong until a given amount of time and intensive research is carried out. On the other side, some types of genetically modified foods will help improve human health. Some rice has been genetically modified so it grows twice as fast. Scientists have also added Vitamin A and iron to the rice. This helps third world countries whose main food staple is rice, because these countries do not have access to foods like red meat, eggs, chickens, butter and milk which all contain Vitamin A and iron. Thus, increasing Vitamin A and iron is beneficial. Developing Countries: Should They Have Access to GMO's ? Some other characteristics that are commonly inserted and tested in crops are the ability for them to resist certain viruses, extreme temperatures and also enabling the crop to survive with less energy than normal. These things are useful to developing countries, for these places usually don't have much fertile land and there is lack of resources present. The effects of genetically modifying seeds are that we would produce more yields, which in the end would help the large population in those developing countries. People on the contrary have problems with how these developing countries are supposed to get a hold of these genetically modified seeds to enable them to plant these crops. These countries don't have very much money to begin with so how would they be able to pay for this technology? In this situation, these developing countries are still not receiving this technology. They are susceptible to and in danger of being exploited by big and powerful bio-tech companies that could and will take over (take advantage) ...read more.

Conclusion

I had 29 participants. Ten of them being 30+, three of them being 19-25, and sixteen of them being 15-18 years of age. The aim was to investigate the understanding and views on genetically modified foods among various segments of the community with the focus projected on high school students, who are the future users of ,and the ones who will benefit most from, this technology. The extent to which the media has influenced these views and understanding was also investigated (Leou, et al., 2000, para.1). Questions one through three were classified under general knowledge. Questions four and five were classified under environmental issues. Questions six and seven were classified under social-economic issues. Questions eight and nine were classified under ethical and moral issues. Questions ten and eleven were classified under media influence and finally questions twelve and thirteen were classified under personal opinions. What I saw was that the 15-18 age category knew very little regarding GM food. Example being what it is, the amount of GM produce in grocery stores. This is sort of sad to see because as the younger ones grow older they will be exposed to genetically modified foods more often. On the other hand, the adults had more of an idea of the issues surrounding GM foods. I found most interesting was that the adults voiced their own opinions, differing thoughts and ideas. Whereas the students did not. I received fascinating comments in the "opinion area." Some people were supportive towards genetic modification of crop plants, not carrying about side effects while others had an opposing view. It is obvious that further development in this area will cause more controversy, but hopefully a solution will be found that everyone will be satisfied with the outcome. What's Left? The only question left is whether can this technology safely marshal a plant's natural defenses against weeds or viruses? Can it induce crops to flourish with minimal application of chemical fertilizers? The only answer may emerge as the people learn by trial and error. We'll have to see what will happen. ...read more.

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