Genetically Modified Foods

NEHIR ELKIN
4 min readMay 27, 2021

Many people are highly skeptical when it comes to genetically modified food, but in fact they are the key to cure many diseases and living in a healthier environment. A genetically modified food is an organism that has an altered DNA. Scientists create these special foods using genetic engineering or transgenic technology. The most useful and easiest tool to edit genes is CRISPR-Cas9, which was discovered by Jennifer Doudna, Emmanuelle Charpentier, and their colleagues. Gene editing is achieved by the use of enzymes designed to target a particular DNA sequence, where they introduce modifications into the DNA strands, enabling the removal of current DNA and the insertion of replacement DNA. Genetically modified foods have more benefits than harms for us and the environment because they improve our lives in numerous ways. If they are used wisely, GMOs can even save our dying planet. Three of these many examples are curing and preventing irreversible diseases, making foods healthier and more environmentally friendly, and easing farmers’ production processes.

The first way in which GMOs are beneficial to the environment and the people is the fact that they improve humans’ health by preventing and curing diseases. After developing the gene editing technology, many scientists started to fuse into the topic of health via foods. For example, Golden Rice is a project based on preventing death and irreversible blindness due to the lack of vitamin A in white rice. Golden Rice technology has originated and is being delivered through the public sector. It was developed to help consumers, and it doesn’t seize profit. In the article We Pioneered a Technology to Save Millions of Poor Children, But a Worldwide Smear Campaign Has Blocked It by Adrian Dubock, Ingo Potrykus, and Peter Beyer it is written that, “The first GMO crops were created by agri-business companies. Suspicion of the technology and suspicion of commercial motivations merged, only for crop (but not enzymes or pharmaceuticals) applications of GMO technology. Activists motivated by these suspicions were successful in getting the ‘precautionary principle’ incorporated in an international treaty which has been ratified by 166 countries and the European Union — The Cartagena Protocol” (1). The campaign managed to spread its arms into many biased people who didn’t do research about the project, and probably only signed it because of the false information that is being spread about GMOs. If only people could’ve been more open to new technologies, many more children’s lives would’ve been saved. Not every genetically modified food is necessarily good to the environment, nor the people and animals. Considering GMOs can be carcinogenic, it is understandable that people are suspicious of them. This suspicion, however, can be reduced by the tests the World Health Organization conducts. If there is any way the consumer, farmer, or the environment gets affected poorly by the product, it doesn’t get released. To conclude, being afraid from consuming genetically modified foods is unnecessary considering the tests they went through, and the health benefits they provide us.

Another reason why GM foods are beneficial is the fact that with the help of CRISPR, genetic engineers make foods healthier and more environmentally friendly. Michael Stebbings says that they (GMOs) are one of the most overlooked solutions to combating threats to our planet. He proves his statement by pointing out the facts he got from the article Environmental impacts of genetically modified (GM) crop use 1996–2013: Impacts on pesticide use and carbon emissions published by the US National Library of Medicine “In 2016 alone, growing GMO crops helped decrease CO2 emissions equivalent to taking 16.7 million cars off the road for an entire year. GMOs also reduce the amount of pesticides that need to be sprayed, while simultaneously increasing the amount of crops available to be eaten and sold. Over the last 20 years, GMOs have reduced pesticide applications by 8.2% and helped increase crop yields by 22%” (1). We can conclude that after much research conducted on GMOs, scientists have found out that GMOs are in fact very environmentally friendly to the point where they are the key to saving our planet. Hence, GM foods can increase crop yield, food quality and the diversity of foods; and they help preserve soil, conserve water, and reduce carbon emissions.

The third way in which GMOs are beneficial to the environment and the society is the manner in which they improve farmers’ lives. According to Asis Datta in the article Genetic engineering for improving quality and productivity of crops, GMOs are resistant to insect damage, plant viruses, and they tolerate herbicides. As a result, it is possible to conclude that the long-term integration of traditional agricultural practices with modern biotechnology will allow the achievement of food security for current and future generations. That being said, it is critical that the production of a GM crop be closely monitored for many generations in the field and that it undergoes stringent bio-safety tests on a case-by-case level before being released for commercial cultivation.

To summarize, genetically modified foods created with the help of CRISPR, have many health benefits to people and the environment. They come in hand when preventing irreversible diseases, making healthier and more environmentally friendly foods, improving and easing farmers’ production processes. GM crops have become an integral part of our lives, and the immense promise of biotechnology must be harnessed for the good of humanity. After all, if they are produced by genetic engineers who want to help the people, animals, and the environment; they have the power to heal our planet.

--

--