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Genetically Modified Foods and Crops: Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Genetically modified foods, often classified as GMOs, have changed the way that people view their food.
  • Although genetic modifications have occurred throughout history with selective breeding and growing methods, scientific advances have allowed this practice to advance to the genetic level.
  • In the modern GMO, plants can be resistant to specific pesticides and herbicides while becoming adaptive to changing environmental conditions.
  • The primary advantage of genetically modified foods is that crop yields become more consistent and productive, allowing more people to be fed.
  • According to Oxfam, the world currently produced about 20% more food calories than what is required for every human being to be healthy. GMOs are not without disadvantages.
  • Although there are no conclusive links, Brown University concluded that changes to foods on a genetic level combine proteins that humans are not used to consuming.
  • This may increase the chances of an allergic reaction occurring. Since 1999, the rates of food allergies in children have increased from 3.4% to 5.1%.
  • Here are some of the additional advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified foods to think about.

Advantages of Genetically Modified Crop or Foods

1. Predictable Foods

  • When crop yields become predictable, then the food supply becomes predictable at the same time. This gives us the ability to reduce the presence of food deserts around the world, providing a greater population with a well-rounded nutritional opportunity that may not have existed in the past.

2. Flavour and Nutrition

  • Along with resistances to insects and disease, the genes of the crops can also be altered to have a better flavour and increased nutritional value. Genetic modifications do more than add pest resistance or weather resistance to GMO crops.

3. Longer Shelf Life

  • Genetically modified foods have a longer shelf life. This improves how long they last and stay fresh during transportation and storage.

  • Instead of relying on preservatives to maintain food freshness while it sits on a shelf, genetically modified foods make it possible to extend food life by enhancing the natural qualities of the food itself.

  • According to Environmental Nutrition, certain preservatives are associated with a higher carcinogen, heart disease, and allergy risk.

4. Medical Benefits

  • Through a process called “Pharming”, it is possible to produce certain proteins and vaccines, along with other pharmaceutical goods, by the use of genetic modifications.

  • This practice offers cheaper methods of improving personal health and could change how certain medications are provided to patients in the future.

5. Appealing to eat

  • Colours can be changed or improved with genetically modified foods so they become more pleasing to eat.

  • Spoon University reports that deeper colors in foods changes how the brain perceives what is being eaten.

  • Deeper red colors make food seem to be sweeter, even if it is not. Brighter foods are associated with better nutrition and improved flavours.

6. Easier to transport

  • Because GMO crops have a prolonged shelf life, it is easier to transport them greater distances.

  • This improvement makes it possible to take excess food products from one community and deliver it to another that may be experiencing a food shortage.

  • GMO foods give us the opportunity to limit food waste, especially in the developing world, so that hunger can be reduced and potentially eliminated.

7. Herbicides and Pesticides

  • Since GMOs require much less chemicals to thrive, the impact on the environment is lessened. The pesticides and other chemicals commonly used on non GMO crops emit greenhouse gases and pollute the ground soil.

8. Affordable

  • One of the biggest effects that the use of GMOs has had on our everyday life is the prices of produce and other foods. Since more crops can be yielded, the prices can be much lower.

9. Resistance to Disease

  • One of the modifications made to the crops is an added resistance to disease that would normally kill off the crops. This keeps the yields high and the prices for the consumers low.

10. Sustainability

  • GMOs provide a stable and efficient way to sustain enough crops to feed the ever growing population of people in the world. This was the main goal of GMO crops in the first place.

Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Crop or Foods

1. Antibiotic resistance

  • The crops that have been genetically modified have antibiotic properties put into them in order to make them immune to certain diseases. When you eat these foods these properties are left in your body and can make many antibiotics less effective.

2. Legal liability

  • Crops that are genetically modified will create seeds that are genetically modified. Cross-pollination is possible between GMO crops and Non-GMO crops as well, even when specified farming practices are followed. Because many of the crops and seeds that produce GMO crops are patented, farmers that aren‘t even involved in growing these foods are subjected to a higher level of legal liability.

3. Cross Contamination

  • The pollen from the genetically modified plants is also contaminated. When this pollen is around other plants, even things like grass or weeds, they cross pollinate. This could develop Super weeds‖ that have the same resistance properties as the crops.

4. Allergies on the Rise

  • Ever since the introduction of GMO foods, the amount of childhood food allergies has risen significantly. The exact link to GMO has not yet been found, but many believe this is due to insufficient research in the area.

5. Not Enough Testing

  • There has been very little testing and research done on genetically modified foods and the long term effects have not been discovered yet.

  • This makes many people feel uneasy at the high use of these foods. The advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified foods can spark a bitter debate.

  • There is an advantage in providing the world with better food access, but more food should not come at the expense of personal health. 

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