Monday, September 12, 2011

Genetically Modified Food

Environmental Issues

Transgenic organisms are a direct result of genetic engineering. Scientists are utilizing their knowledge in the manipulation of genetic material in order to create the most efficient, productive organisms to mankind. Specifically speaking, creating a transgenic organism, such as a source of food supply, can greatly assist the human race in its growth while helping conserve the environment in which we live. There are many pros and cons for genetic food modification, some of which we don’t yet fully understand.
By genetically engineering food sources, humans can drastically increase the nutritional values in the food consumed which benefits everyone. In addition, genetically enhancing crops can create a plant that is friendlier in growing in unconventional climates. Permitting growth in more geographical places for crops increases overall production. However, there are still many “unknowns” in regards to genetically enhanced food sources. The question of whether or not the food is dangerous for consumption cannot yet fully be answered. Another concern is whether or not these transgenic organisms would be a form of pollution to the natural environment. Similar to the concept of cloning livestock, the long term effects just simply aren’t known.
The concept of genetically engineered crops and plants is similar, yet different to the idea of selective breeding. While both methods try to single out the most desirable products in order to create a superior product, one is creating what is considered the desirable product while the other pulls from a group of pre-existing product. For example, genetically enhancing strawberries to be more diverse in where they can be grown changes the initial plant. Taking the plant once enhanced to create a superior crop results in widespread results, in theory. Selective breeding takes two horses, for example, that are deemed to be superior in desired attributes and are bred together in order to create more superior attributed horses. These two methodologies are similar, but remain very different from onset.

Withgott, Jay & Scott Brennan. Essential Environment: 3rd Ed. Pearson Custom
Publishing: San Francisco, 2009.