Genetically Modified Food; GM food is more commonplace in our food chain than we realize. There are a lot of people, scientists and farmers running around in confusion. In fact genetic engineering is becoming the norm in the world of animal factory farming and big industrial crop production.
If it is a good thing, then what all these protests for? If it as a bad thing, then what are the dangers and the long term outlook for both farmers and consumers?
This section will focus on the controversies surrounding genetically modified food, specifically cultivated food crops.
So far genetic alterations in food crops include corn, soybeans, cotton (for cottonseed oil), alfalfa (animal feed), tomatoes, canola, sugar cane, sugar beets, rice, squash and sweet peppers.
Genetically engineering plants is one thing but what they are doing to farm animals is pure Frankenstein. Instead of changing the factory farm to fit the animal, they engineer the animal to fit the production line.
The result is chickens with enormous breasts but thin spindly legs that won’t hold them up. Then there’s the chickens that do nothing but continuously lay eggs till they die. How about milk cows engineered to produce quantities of milk unheard of in natural cows. They also die early and then its off to burgerville. Animals are another story that is covered in detail on other pages.
Genetically Modified Food Definition
Biotechnology is the science that is used to manipulate life forms, or genetically engineer a life form into one that has new or different characteristics from the original organism.
Simply stated, genetic engineering involves taking genes from one life form and introducing them (splicing) into another life form to produce DNA sequences that would not be normally found in nature or in the target species.
Recombinant DNA is the term given to a DNA molecule made of two
(or more) different organisms spliced together in a laboratory.
As a memory refresher, recall that DNA carries the information for encoding or expressing genes. Genes are made of DNA and chromosomes carry genes. In humans there are 24,000 genes carried on 23 pairs of chromosomes. The genome is what we call a full set of chromosomes and genes.
Thus, a genetically modified organism is one that has been created by changing its genetic material using recombinant DNA technology. Because the structure of DNA is such that DNA molecules from all organisms share the same nucleotides, or building blocks, consisting of the same sugar and phosphate group and one of five different bases; A, T, U, C and G.
A base pair refers to the chemical reaction between the nucleotide building blocks where within the nucleic acid strands of the DNA helix, base A always pairs with T or U, and base G always pairs with C.
What all that means is that the recombinant DNA can originate from any species and be joined to that of any other species. For example, plant DNA can be joined to a bacterial DNA; or human DNA can be joined to a fungal DNA; or anything else the scientific mind can imagine.
Genetically modified foods in huge progress
The main concern arises from the speed with which genetically modified foods have been unleashed on the consuming public without adequate long range testing. There is a huge amount of circumstantial evidence that implicates GM corn in animal feed with an increase in cattle deaths and deformities. Increases in asthma, allergies, gastrointestinal problems and other diseases seem to correlate with the proliferation of GM crops.
Therein lays the cause for concern, if not outright alarm. The dangers and concerns will be covered in succeeding pages but for now, we have Burpee seeds and plants that are never genetically modified.
Our Right to Know about Genetically Modified Foods
There are legislators in our government that are totally captivated by Monsanto and other GMO seed producers and purveyors of agricultural pesticides and herbicides. Their agenda is to pass laws that absolutely prohibit us from knowing whether or not our food has been genetically modified and saturated with toxic chemicals. They also want to prohibit states from passing laws that would protect our right to know and regulate genetically modified food production.
Furthermore the laws they are pushing would wipe out all the progress that has been made in labeling GMO foods. The Organic Consumers Association calls this type of activity DARK Acts, an acronym for “Deny Americans the Right to Know”.