Although the global population continues to grow, the area of cultivable land decreases.
And the conventional agriculture technology is unable to meet the needs of people’s daily life. In order to improve the production and the quality of crops, people started to focus on genetic engineering products–transgenic crops, which have a really broad prospect. Genetically modified crops research has been carried out for decades, but it only achieves commercialization in the recent years. The genetically modified technology has been seen as an advanced technology which can help to ameliorate agriculture technology and improve people’s living standards. However, the genetically modified technology is a newly emerging technology, the safety of genetically modified crops is the concern of the public.
What’s GM crop & Why we choose it
As some scientists point out,transgenic (GM) plants are those that have been genetically modified using recombinant DNA technology. In this way a nonnative gene of this kind of plant can be expressed also some endogenous genes can be modified. And the modified gene would like to encode specific protein which confer that the plant can have a
unique trait or characteristic. In my opinion, this is a main reason why people choose
genetically modified crops.
Also according to the research of some scientists, another reason that makes people choose genetically modified crops is that the genetically modified technology can shorten the lifespan of crops. They suggest that traditional hybrid breeding techniques need longer time and usually take 8 to 10 years to get a new breed. But the use of biotechnology to transform crops can accelerate the selection and cultivation of excellent crops. And in agriculture, the vast majority of genetic engineering applications are related to human’s food or animals’ fodder. Also, the huge leap of agriculture associted with transgenic technology is known as the second green revolution.
GM crops’ harm
With the progress of science and technology, gm crops gradually enter into people’s daily life and commercial production. Although gm crops have many
advantages, in recent years, there are still some events indicating that GM crops still have some risks and side effects on human health. One of the most influential issues is the ‘0157-H7 Escherichia coli’ event which was widely reported by social media. In this event, gm corn is used as fodder because of its extremely cheap price, but the structure of the stomach of the cow is not formed to digest the genetically modified corn and this leads to the emergence of the new bacterial population of ‘0157-H7 Escherichia
coli’. In some European countries, this kind of new bacterial even. caused the death of some people. So, people do worry about the danger of gm crops.Taking the risks to human health which are posed by genetically modified crops into consideration, the community need to be on guard of genetically modified food safety hazards from the following three aspects.
Gm crops are prone to allergic problems, according to some experts on genetically modified crops field. The reason is that after the introduction of foreign genes in crops, the genetically modified organisms will produce new proteins. It is quite difficult for the immune system of humans that evaluate in the natural environment to adapt to these
new proteins, so these new proteins may cause the emergence of allergic reaction among people who eat or contact these genetically modified crops. Exogenous genes that come from organisms are more likely to produce the allergic reaction，such as peanuts and seafood. These modified genes may produce allergic proteins in the final production. Therefore, the source and content of foreign genes in the genetically modified crops should be marked in the labeling of food. Also, these foods may cause allergies should be indicated, so as not to be eaten by special groups of people. In order to evaluate the allergenicity of some genetically modified crops, Mishra et al carried out a series of experiments which do confirm that some modified genes really have the allergenic potential.
2.Damage of nutrition
Another aspect that we should pay attention to is that the foreign gene may damage the
original nutrition in the food ingredients. At present, in order to conduct safety assessments of genetically modified crops, many countries only compare the ingredient of genetically modified crops with conventional foods from the aspects of phenotypic traits, molecular characteristics and the main nutrients, without taking some situations, such as comprehensive effects, gene silencing, co-suppression phenomenon into consideration. So, the current evaluation method is not reasonable enough. In fact, genetically modified crops may also be different from traditional foods in major or trace amounts of nutrients and anti-nutritional factors. Thus, the nutritional value of food may be reduced and these distinctions may even lead to the imbalances of nutrient structure.
GM crops’ bennefits
From the perspective of pesticides, genetically modified crops have no greater risk to human health. Carpenter put up the view that genetically modified crops are able to reduce the use of pesticide. And in this way, when we eat crops, we will absorb a smaller amount of residual pesticides. Also, we won’t worry about whether we have cleaned the foods. Traditional breeding methods are difficult to solve pests and diseases and resistance problems, so the main way to control pests and diseases is to spray pesticides. However, due to the gradual strengthening of pest resistance, it is necessary to increase the measurement and toxicity of pesticides. Residual pesticides will seriously threaten human health and further damage other organisms. Genetically modified technology can greatly improve the quality of human life by increasing the ability of biological resistance to pests and diseases and avoiding the use of pesticides.
Also, when we put ourselves in the same situation as people who are living in the remote
area, genetically modified crops still have no greater to human health. For those people, their basic need is food. Not suffering from hunger means health to them. And gm crops have greatly increased food production and alleviated the food crisis. Although the supply of food in other areas is relatively stable, population growing rapidly, natural disasters sometimes occurring, both of this lead to the contradiction between food demand and supply, which has become increasingly prominent. Crop varieties that are cultivated by using transgenic technology are with strong resistance. So, the food production increases, thus to a certain extent, the crisis of food shortage is eased and people who are hungry become healthy because of extra foods.
Though the gm crops are without too much pesticide and the production of them is pretty large, also some of them contain micronutrients that’s good to human health,
the gm crops do pose greater risk to human health. In my opinion, the risks to human health brought by genetically modified crops overweight the benefits of gm crops.