“Biotechnology has been used for more than 6,000 years for lots of interesting and practical purposes: making food such as bread and cheese, preserving dairy products and fermenting beer” (Biotechnology – Promising a Brighter Future for the World). Although we do not always realize it, biotechnology is a huge part of our everyday lives, from the medicine we use to keep us healthy, the fuel we use to take us where we need to go, and even the food we eat and the sources it comes from, biotechnology already plays, and must continue to play, an invaluable role in meeting our needs. Biotechnology uses cellular and bio-molecular processes to develop technologies and products that help improve our lives and the health of our planet. It has granted us the ability to overcome physiological barriers and to exchange genetic materials among living organisms. Genetically modified foods are the latest contribution of biotechnology. These foods are being made by inserting genes from an external source such as viruses, bacteria, animals or plants into a usually unrelated species. The use of recombinant DNA technology has the potential to allow humans to create desired and designed foods.
Many opponents of genetically modified foods doubt the safety of those artificial foods. They are the products of people’s intelligence and creativeness, but compared to the eternal law of the nature, human knowledge is not always right. People make mistakes, and sometimes they do not notice about these mistakes until the problems arise. Though developers and manufacturers make sure that there are various advantages of consuming genetically modified foods, due to the potential genetic defects or problems in these foods, they may still damage humans’ bodies and undermine the environment. Regarding their benefits such as variation of food choice and the decrease of the cost of food production, genetically modified foods do bring improvements to our daily lives; however, there is more benefit if we can care for our long-term health and environment by trying to avoid genetically modified foods. Those who support genetically modified foods strengthen their position by claiming a decent amount of benefits the biotechnology creates. Deborah B. Whitman, a master of biotechnology from The Johns Hopkins University, attended a Food and Drug Administration meeting held in November 1999 in Washington, D.C., that discussed many benefits involved in genetically modified foods.
In his article Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?, he summarized how genetically modified foods are disease-resistant and can help in human’s nutrition. Well-grown genetically modified foods can alleviate nutrient deficiencies in third world countries where impoverished people rely on a single crop such as rice. Besides these benefits in health, genetically modified foods contain genes expressing herbicide tolerance and pest resistance, which help prevent environmental damage and reduce the production cost by reducing the amount of herbicides and pesticides needed. Our health and the environment are crucial components of our lives; they are what people have always been concerned about. Many people improve the quality of their lives by looking for and obtaining genetically modified products. If genetically modified crops did not actually offer improvements to people’s lives, the product’s sales would decrease and lose popularity among consumers. Nevertheless, the opponents’ concern of genetically modified food is right in regards to the chance that they could also negatively affect humans’ health, even though it would be an injustice to completely abandon the possibilities that could enhance the lives of so many people based only on the assumption that genetically modified food may cause diseases or mutations in humans.
There are still no evidences of the direct negative effect of genetically modified foods on humans; in fact, all experiments are conducted by animal and bacterial tests due to the ethics. Thus, the supporters of genetically modified foods are not entirely wrong when the society has presented many improvements enhanced by genetically foods. It is true that we should try new methods to improve the quality of life of all people, but I do not agree people should expose themselves to the risks of getting disease and triggering any harms to the environment. Many people who oppose genetically modified foods are concerned about the long-term human health effects of the biotechnical crops. According to the scientific data mentioned in the article Genetically Modified Foods and Social Concerns, the animal testing has presented the problems that may be caused by genetically modified foods. “Animals fed by genetically modified crops have been harmed or even died. Rats exposed to transgenic potatoes or soya had abnormal young sperm……” (Maghari and Ardekani).
Since humans are related to testing animals, there’s a possibility that humans can get the similar disease or fatal dangers if those testing animals have already undergone those situations. Beside this health issue, there was a report about creating pesticide-resistant and herbicide-resistant plants could damage the environments by changing the interactions between plants and insects or animals. No matter how careful the developers of genetically modified foods are, they are upsetting the natural balance of the ecosystem by creating something that did not develop there on its own. However, this is a controversial subject as studies conducted by company producing the biotechnical crops did not show any negative effects of genetically modified foods on mice nor the crop environment. But how much credit should we give those genetically modified food developers who may see their profits more importantly than their consumers’ right to know what they are consuming? Current testing methods of being used in biotech companies appear to be inadequate. For example, only chemical analysis of some nutrients is reported. Labeling of ingredients and health and environmental warnings relates to consumer’s right to make an informed choice on genetically modified foods that could potentially introduce health problems and undermine the environment. The supporters of genetically modified foods should see this as a must while they are advertising how good the genetically modified foods are.
In conclusion, supporters of genetically modified foods strive to change the food- making process and bring it to an ideal state that can both improve our diet and alleviate the chemical harms to the environment; on the other hand, opponents tend to protect the traditional way of food production and thus, can guarantee the safety of our diet and prevent the unnatural disturbs to the environments. Both sides seem advantageous to our lives, in my opinion, the developers and manufacturers of genetically modified foods should try to conduct more specific and detailed experiments and checking on the foods and, formalize the food labeling before they release their products to consumers in order to conserve their opponents’ emphasis on long-term health and environment. People should not just adapt to the short-term benefits that the genetically modified foods bring, instead, they should also think about how their descendants will be inherent the negative consequences that the genetically modified foods might create.