HS305 Research Methods for Health Science
April 1, 2014
Genetically Modified Foods
Bioengineering, a technology that allows for the transfer of genes between species are currently dominate industrial agriculture in the United States. The first genetically engineered crop was tobacco. In 1986, the modified plant was resistant to direct application of herbicides, the following year engineered to resist insects. The process of isolating bacteria and protein crystals toxic to insects then consumed binding to insect gut, breaking down gut wall and flooding the insect with toxins and bacteria, and the insect dies. This provided the way to field trials for all of our plants and food products for the modification for specific traits (Swanson, 2013). Patented by chemical companies, synthetic biology of corn, soybean, canola, cotton and sugar beets are the most common of the genetically modified crops to produce a desired trait. As of August, 2012, transgenic plant totals approved by the FDA is 144 and 75% of those are genetically engineered with glyphosate-resistant enzymes, Bt toxin or stacked with both (FDA, 2013). Currently plants, microorganisms and animals are integrated, manipulated through extraction or integration with foreign DNA coding of one or more new genes and have become prominent in human and animal nutrition (FlachowskyY, Chesson & Aulrich, 2005). Issues and concerns surrounding evidence about the safety of first generation genetically modified organisms and as we evolve into second generation biotechnology where we a likely to see more radical changes of what was previously possible in mainstream synthetic biology (Hoffman, 2014). The question remains, have these synthetic materials been backed by enough research to be deemed safe for human consumption in all of its varieties for the introduction to a new paradigm of pharmaceutical and animal genetic modification and can our environment sustain these materials?
Many questions surrounding our Eco system as a protectable “good” has been a topic of debate for many environmentalists aimed at preventing damage to the eco system. According to the EPA, glyphosate, a widely used pesticide and a known enzyme added to genetically modified plants, has acute health effects such as lungs, kidney and reproductive effects. Used in our environment as a spray for controlling woody weeds, right of way cropped and non-cropped sites, the sites may have water or wetlands. Release during manufacture, formation, transport, storage, disposal, cleanup or spills. The EPA reports that traces in soil can be found up to 60 days later (EPA, 2014). Pesticide evidence detected in our natural eco-system has been an ongoing concern, resulting in residues on food, ground and surface water contamination, damage to non-targeted species, increasing the chemical resistance to insects. Additionally, human safety issues when working with these chemicals with multiple concerns both direct and indirect to the environment (Marlow, et al 2009). According to the USDA, from 1991 through 2010 on the use of GMO crops, the pesticide use increased 6,504 % (Swanson, 2013). While our plants have been modified to withstand the pesticide, runoff as well as human consumption has multiple catastrophic side effects that should be acknowledged. Further can these organisms co-existence in the environment without threatening an endangering the natural strains through the natural course dominance of strains. Observations have been made along railways in Switzerland in light of the organic farming and the boycotting of GM products in this country in which seeds inadvertently burst from transport and crops have contaminated and provide early evidence of uncontrolled spread (Schoenenberger & D’Andrea, 2012). Legal action has taken place in several instances in which farmers have been sued, the