Genetic engineering is a science where organisms’ characteristics are modified deliberately through the manipulation of their genetic material (DNA) and certain genes transformation. The aim is to create new life variations. The technology used by genetically modified (GM) foods is a biotechnology that changes genetic material of plants and animals. However, it should be noted that a variety of techniques is used to introduce ‘inactive’ unwanted ones or desired genes (Better Health Channel, 2013). Viral infection (bacterial carriers) or benign bacterial, gene ‘silencing’, biolistics, gene splicing, electroporation, and calcium phosphate precipitation are some of the techniques used. Farmers have embraced this technology because GM foods increase the shelf life, improve the crop’s nutritional yield, and are made resistant to insecticides and pesticides.
To some people, the fear is the fast pace of genetic engineering research, and many argue that this may lead to humans cloning someday, which is opposed by Great Britain and the United States. This opposition was as a result of the cloning in Scotland of Dolly the sheep (Uzogara, 2000, p. 181). Critics oppose all forms of genetic engineering in animals and plants and campaign for the outright ban of GM foods. For example, the case of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin versus the Monarch butterflies and FDA’s decision to classify irradiated and GM foods as organic foods (Uzogara, 2000, p. 182). Militant groups have also opposed genetic modification and argue that it poses as a great risk to the environment with regard to the development of resistant insects and weeds. In addition, GM foods contribute to difficulty in preserving the identity of crops that are not GM in nature, and this has affected the production and yield of such crops (Demont et al., 2007). In conclusion, this technology has received mixed reactions from people because some have embraced GM biotechnology while others are still resisting.
Better Health Channel. (2013). Genetically modified foods – techniques. Retrieved from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Genetically_modified_foods_techniques
Demont, M., et al. (2007). GM crops in Europe: How much value and for whom? EuroChoices 6: 46-53.
Uzogara, S.G. (2000). The impact of genetic modification of human foods in the 21st century: A review. Biotechnology, 18: 179-206.