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Genetically Modified Organisms Essay

3415 words - 14 pages

Emily Hernandez
ENVS 301

Genetically Modified Organisms

Although biotechnology and genetic modification commonly are used interchangeably, GM is a special set of technologies that alter the genetic makeup of organisms such as animals, plants, or bacteria. Biotechnology, a more general term, refers to using organisms or their components, such as enzymes, to make products that include wine, cheese, beer, and yogurt. Combining gene from different organisms is known as recombinant DNA technology, and the resulting organisms is said to be ‘genetically modified.’ GM products- current or those in development- include medicines and vaccines, foods and food ingredients, feeds, and ...view middle of the document...

Despite claims that GMOs would increase yields for farmers and require less use of pesticides or herbicides, the opposite has been true in many instances. An extension of the first claim is that GMOs would help farmers produce enough food to feed the ever-expanding world population, but that is not true either. Within the past 50 years, crop production worldwide has tripled, but an increasing number of people are going hungry. The United Nations World Food Program acknowledges that there is already enough food produced on Earth to feed every inhabitant sufficiently and in a health manner, and that has been true for some years now. Unfortunately, famine and starvation are now largely social and political issues. People who cannot feed themselves either cannot grow their own food, cannot afford to buy food, or both. Further, most of the GM crops commercialized to date go into the making of animal food, not food for people.

Worse still with GMO crops are the ideas of seeds as ‘intellectual property.’ Normally, a planted, seed-bearing crop would produce seeds that can be saved to plant for next years crop. Saving seeds is the traditional method for being able to plant next years crop at all in many poorer areas of the world. But Monsanto, one of the worlds leading biotechnology corporations, has somehow managed to claim GM seeds as ‘intellectual property’, which makes it illegal for farmers to save seeds. This means that farmers would have to buy their seeds every single year, and many of them would end up heavily in debt as a consequence. To help ensure the manipulation not only of genetics but human lives as well, biotechnology corporations have also come up with the idea of GURT (Genetic Use Restriction Technology), the so-called ‘suicide seeds.’ These seeds have been genetically modified to render them sterile at harvest, a guarantee that farmers would not be able to replant them the following year.

A controversy arose around biotechnology company Monsanto’s data on a 90-Day Rat Feeding Study on the MON863 strain of GM corn. ** In May 2005, critics of GM foods pointed to differences in kidney size and blood composition found in this study, suggesting that the observed differences raises questions about the regulatory concept of substantial equivalence.**
The raising of this issue prompted the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to reexamine the safety data on this strain of corn. The EFSA concluded that the observed small numerical decreases in rat kidney weights were not biologically meaningful, and the weights were well within the normal range of kidney weights for control animals. There were no corresponding microscopic findings in the relevant organ systems, and all blood chemistry and organ weight values fell within the ‘normal range of historical control values’ for rats **. In addition the EFSA review found that the statistical methods used by Seralini et al in the analysis of the data were incorrect...

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