By Akshata Kamath
Genes are modified by either replacing or removing DNA from the organism in order to obtain a slightly different byproduct from that of the original species. A GMO can either be a plant/ animal/ microorganism.Genetic engineering is the technique used to modify genes. This technique helps in creating a combination of organisms genetic material that generally do not occur by itself in nature. Such modifications helps in obtaining new products which one can use on a everyday basis.
Genetic modification of organisms is engineered so that the byproducts has the ability to remain undamaged even with the application of germicides/herbicides/insecticides. These technologies has lead to develop artificial features like the one that halts the browning of apple. The technology that promises increase yield/ enriched nutrition/ drought tolerance/ any other benefit to the population is unknown. Foods that possible can contain such GMO’s are the packaged foods which contain ingredients derived from corn, soy, canola, and sugar beet. Some of the foods that were genetically engineered: tobacco resistant to virus, cheese made with enzyme called rennet obtained from the stomach lining of the cow which formed cheese curds, tomato engineered to have a longer shelf life,potato resistant to pesticides, squash resistant to virus, golden rice developed to improve its nutrient composition, papaya resistant to ringspot virus.
Lately safety of such GMO’s has become a concern. There has been various opinions by the scientists pertaining to the genetically engineered foods posing risk to human health. Though these foods are made with intention of controlling incidents of certain diseases by the researchers and manufacturers other set of population is acquainted and is against GMO foods. It is believed that people can develop diseases where they get immune to antibiotics on consuming of these genetically modified foods. Besides, there is very limited understanding in the long term effects on human health posed by consumption of these foods. As the implications of GE foods health effects is unknown, population prefers to avoid these foods. Food labels are devoid of the facts on using genetically engineered foods so that their business is unaffected. which is bad practice. There are lot of superstitions on these foods as people belonging to certain religious and cultural communities think that the food is produced in an unnatural way.
Gene recombination method can bring about a damage to other organisms that develop in the environment. Specialists also have an attitude that with increase in availability of such foods, developing countries would start depending more on the developed countries as they are more likely to have authority on food production and our local economy would fall apart.