Since emerging into the public consciousness, genetically modified foods have been at the center of vehement controversy. Some people extoll GM foods’tremendous potential for good. Others warn of the catastrophic nature of their possible side effects.
Proponents of genetically modified foods paint a rosy picture of deserts turned to arable land; starving millions fed with vitamin augmented foods; and crops altered to be resistant to weeds and pests. Biotechnology, they say, can also be used to provide a kaleidoscope of other products ranging from cleaner plastics to consumable vaccines.
Critics counter this optimism by pointing out that biotechnology circumvents all the safeguards that nature has putsintosplace to avoid disaster. GM technology causes drastic, immediate, and irreversible evolutionary developments whose results are unpredictable.
Along with the introduction of GM foods comes a number of questions. Will pest-resistant genes in crops spread to surrounding vegetation and create super weeds that require more toxic chemicals to eradicate? Will people with food allergies be able to realistically monitor their diets? Will these alien genes harm the fragile ecosystem upon which we all depend?
Genetic modification is simply the utilization of DNA technology to transfer the genetic traits of one species to another. It is the lack of information regarding its potential effects, however, that leave many wondering if GM foods are a miracle or a monster.
---by Randy Peters