Essay about The Concerns and Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Crops

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The Concerns and Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Crops

The debate about the safety and need for genetically modified crops and foods has raged since the mid '90s. A lot of time and money has been spent by biotechnology companies, scientists, and governments, to convince people that there is really nothing to worry about, and that this technology will provide benefits to all. But while GM crops are now being used widely by farmers in the USA, consumers in the European Union and Japan have reacted strongly against them1. Although this has slowed the rate at which GM crops and foods are being introduced, the biotech industry is continuing to promote them.

For numerous generations
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Genetic engineering is an unpredictable and imprecise process. By inserting 'alien' genes from organisms which have never been eaten as food, new proteins are introduced into the animal and human food chains. There is concern that these could cause allergic reactions or other negative health effects. In other words, they are a potential "poison," as was stated by the Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa4.

The safety testing of GM foods is based on the concept of 'substantial equivalence'. This is the idea that if a GM food can be shown to be 'substantially' the same as a non GM food then it is considered to be safe. It was developed because of the difficulties and cost of conducting traditional safety tests (like those used for new drugs) on GM foods. But it has been severely criticised by some scientists because it is not clear what level of similarity makes something 'substantially' equivalent5.

Many GM crops contain genes which provide resistance to commonly used antibiotics such as ampicillin. There is concern that these genes could be passed from food to bacteria in the guts of humans and animals. In the Netherlands, researchers used a model of a human gut to look at what would happen to GM

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