Dilemma In Genetically Modified Foods Development

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Some people believe that genetically modified foods have the potential to eliminate starvation and improve the quality of food production. However, others argue that there are many problems both scientific and non-scientific related to this technology. Genetically modified foods are crop plants created for human or animal consumption using the latest molecular biology techniques (Whitman, 2000). The technology has traditionally been implemented through breeding, but this conventional method can be very time consuming and is often not very accurate. On the other hand, genetic engineering can create or modify plants with the exact desired trait very rapidly and with great accuracy. A well-known example of genetically modified food is the use of B.t., or Bacillus thuringiensis, in corn or other crops. The current world population is about 6 billion people and it is predicted to double in the next 50 years (WHO, 2001). Therefore, ensuring an adequate food supply to eliminate starvation is going to be a major challenge in coming years. Genetically modified foods with some of the advantages are potential to satisfy this need in a number of ways: • Pest resistance Crop losses caused by insect pests can spread over a period of time, and result in financial loss for farmers and starvation in developing countries (Whitman, 2000). In fact, farmers use many tons of pesticides annually. However, consumers do not wish to eat food that has been treated with pesticides because of potential health hazards. In addition, excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers can poison the water supply and endanger the environment. Developing genetically modified food such as B.t. corn can lead to a significant decrease in the application of chemical pesticides. • Herbicide tolerance Removing weeds in some crops is usually a time-consuming and expensive process. It is not effective

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