GMOs are Good..or Bad?

What to think of genetically modified foods?

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What to think of genetically modified foods?

Genetically modified foods arouse great distrust in most of us. Right or wrong?

Like plants or animals, transgenic foods are also genetically modified organisms (GMOs) with the help of genetic engineering techniques (or genetic transfer). More precisely, GMOs are organisms in which the set of genes contained in each cell has been modified by the introduction of a foreign gene, coming from a plant, a bacterium or any other organism. All the cells of the genetically modified organisms are therefore accompanied by the new gene, which can be transmitted to the offspring.

The real or alleged benefits

Genetic techniques have been applied to plants for twenty years now with the following objectives:

  • Improvement of color or taste
  • Increase in mass (and therefore in efficiency)
  • Immunization against pests or herbicides
  • Greater resistance to cold, drought and greater suitability for prolonged storage
  • As regards oil plants, a more favorable content of fatty acids
  • Inactivation of allergenic proteins present in certain plants

Designed to meet the nutritional needs of women. We choose foods high in iodine as iodine is known to support the thyroid and the thyroid is known to support hormones.

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If genetic engineering replaces harmful techniques, such as the use of insecticides or herbicides, it can have a beneficial influence on the environment. Unfortunately, due to pollination, you are not protected from the risk of seeing weeds sprouting … resistant to herbicides!

The dangers

The risks associated with genetic manipulation techniques essentially concern the appearance of new toxic substances and new allergens in food.
Furthermore, some properties of transgenic foods, such as antibiotic resistance, could be transmitted to humans.

Safety regulations

According to the legislation in force in most of the European and North American countries and since more than 10 years, foods that have undergone genetic modification must be declared and are subject to control by the Federal Office of Health, which assesses their harmlessness.

Alternatives

It is impossible to stop progress … Nonetheless, people who refuse to proceed along this path can still choose to turn to producers and shops of organic products, which continue to offer foods from organic crops, guaranteed without genetic manipulation..

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29 Responses

  1. Genetically modified organisms, the so-called GMOs, are a delicate and burning topic due to the numerous implications of a social, ethical and political nature that they imply.

    1. Much of this is due to the often superficial and emotional treatment of the media, which generates a lot of confusion in public opinion.

      1. So far all the information I read is rich in contradictory arguments, often not very pertinent or even scientifically incorrect, has the serious consequence of making unclear what a GMO is, how it was produced and what it is used for, what its specific functions are and how useful (or useless) these may be for the human kind.

        1. Before issuing any judgment on GMOs and their food, biological, social and political implications, it is necessary to have a clear scientific knowledge of what we are talking about and how we got there and why the construction of these organisms.

          1. As said above, it is easy to say but very different to do. Having an opinion on GMOs is an account, asking to have a specific idea is another and I don’t think there is anyone today who can say they know exactly what it is or what the advantages or disadvantages are. Everything you read in newspapers, magazines, blogs etc is in perpetually contradicting with each other, perhaps this is due because of the political direction of a newspaper or because of the interest a university has to promote or condemn it but for now, to sum up, it seems a bit of a rough statement.

            1. I have studied GMOs for a long time for my graduation thesis so I speak with full knowledge of the facts. Everyone is free to believe what he wants. Starting from the principle that we are a nation with still, if I am not mistaken, free speech, I will try to expose the data in a scientific way but still within everyone’s reach. Attacking the GMOs as it has been done so far and it still currently done by so many “hidden” organizations for an alleged “Non Profit” that condemn the big multinationals is ridiculous, because it’s a bit like taking the example of the big multinational oil companies that have always attacked any technology which threatened the non-use of oil and its derivatives, see what has been done in the past decades to ensure that either hydrogen or the electric motor was boycotted so as not to be adopted globally, thus preventing any world government, organization and private enterprise to decrease oil production and trade. The same thing is going on for GMOs. Let me tell you something that not many report. The correct definition of GMOs is “non-human organisms modified through genetic engineering”, that is, that set of techniques that allows you to insert, remove or modify portions of DNA, the genetic material that is present in all cells of living organisms. There is therefore no specific reference to plants, with which GMOs are commonly associated, indeed the first successful applications of these techniques have been the production of molecules and enzymes from genetically modified bacteria, of fundamental importance for medicine and for the food industry. Think of insulin for diabetics, once extracted from the pig pancreas, now available for decades pure and in large quantities thanks to genetically modified bacteria, or chymosin, used for dairy production, once extracted from the stomach of calves and now produced by genetically modified bacteria. From these examples it could be deduced that the difficulties related to the public acceptance of GMOs concern only the plant world, in particular food plants, perhaps because they are connected to food and all that this entails on a social and psychological level. The fact is that we live in a world where GMOs have been around for quite some time and have been accepted by every government in a global scale. Now it is a question of understanding why certain typologies are accepted and others not. Is it perhaps a matter of questioning the interests that this topic touches? I am referring to interests on subjects that are very different from those of health and safety of mankind. Could it be that there are big profits at stake and until it has been decided how to properly share the “cake”, all parties involved go against it? These are probably the questions that we all have to ask ourselves.

              1. Sometimes we have to think how ridiculous many of our insinuations are. We live in a world where we talk about colonizing other planets. I wonder what our future relatives will eat on Mars, as long as we really go there and we can reach the planet without getting annihilated before we even get there. It seems obvious to me that future generations will make extensive use of GMOs of all kinds. I do not believe that it is possible to feed and cure a population of thousands of people (or millions to hear what Elon Mask has declared) without the help of these technologies.

                1. I think our race already is (modified). I think the human being is the result of a genetic mutation. The mystery of our DNA is proof of this. We have 99% of the DNA of a common chimpanzee but we are totally different and we have the use of intelligence that has allowed us to get to where we are today by getting down the trees and walking on legs. I don’t believe in a divine intervention but in some way a genetic mutation.

                2. All those who oppose it are just ignorant or arrogant. Technology is advancing day by day and there is no way to stop it. However, the way to improve it can be found.

  2. Yes, but let’s remember that only a few centuries ago it was thought that the world was flat and the sun was spinning around us … you get the idea.

    1. It seems to me absolutely appropriate to remember that we are talking about the safety of mankind, not about whether a technology is adopted or not.

      1. Nicolay Tesla had invented wireless power technology. He was deprived of all his belongings and ridiculed by those who had a conflict of interest. Maybe in 10 years, twenty or who knows maybe in a century someone will declare that he was right. A bit like it was done for Copernicus and Galileo.

        1. It seems counterintuitive to me to discuss GMOs in plants when today you can buy a CRISPS KIT and inject in your body a series of modified genes and various stuff. I wonder why then the green light is given to projects like that.

          1. Many of the people who condemn GMOs have not quite understood what research, experimentation and application of this technology is aiming for. The answer is linked to the discovery of agriculture, that is, to the possibility for man to grow plants, that is, to choose, among all wild plants, those edible for man that had best adapted to the surrounding environment through faculty. Specifications such as the ability to reproduce more easily and more successfully (the ability of seeds to easily disperse in the surrounding environment). This means further advancement for the human race. Nowadays to even think that we cannot or do not want to modify the surrounding nature is itself an “utopia” as it would mean stopping the progress of our human race and all this is in stark contrast to what is the nature of the human being who is instead that of constant advancement.

            1. The concerns of people about GMOs have strongly influenced the policies and legislation on the matter which, with great differences between different nations, have prohibited or allowed their exploitation in agriculture.

              1. In reverse. I think that the mass media pushed by lobbysts and politicians influenced by pharmaceutical companies and anyone else who has interests at stake are those who spread negative and sometimes unfounded information in such a way as to put a great deal of pressure on public opinion (hence the help of social and other mass media). Here then the unsuspecting vegetarian, vegan, simpleton yoghist and other categories of naturalist type of person takes the field together and protests against “the system” without the slightest doubt that he/she has been properly juggled to do so. Old trick still in use.

                1. Nonetheless, the use of GMOs in food is widespread: the United States, Brazil, Canada, India, China are the largest producers of GMOs (especially corn, soy and cotton) with cultivated areas that reach 70 million hectares in the United States. In Europe, the regulations for the cultivation of GMOs are very restrictive, with the exception of Spain, Germany, Portugal, Romania and a few others, GMOs are not grown on the territory, but due to the growing difficulty in finding certified non-GMO foods , they import is still in large quantities. The curious part on this is that Europeans don’t grow them but eat them, and surprisingly, this are for the most part opponents of GMO technology.

                2. Faced with complex theories or technologies, people fail or simply do not want to invest time and energy in trying to understand them, and for this they will make use of their intuition. In this way, simpler, emotional and intuitive theories will be more easily perceived, understood and transmitted, with the result that they will spread and remain longer in people’s minds – even if they are false.

  3. Prudence is a must when faced with choices that profoundly change the context in which they are applied. Overall, a general requirement remains: the request for more studies free from economic interests, which give consumers the real security that the cards are not rigged.

    1. If the opinion of the experts is essential in the strictly scientific context, when, on the other hand, the issue of innovation is addressed, that is, the application of new technical-scientific instruments to society, the discussion must necessarily be extended to other subjects no longer only in the sector, since widespread values ​​and interests come into play. Looking carefully, moreover, the history of science has shown that in some important cases “experts” have made incorrect predictions and assessments on the damage that particular products could have for health or for the environment. Remember, for example, the responsibility of many researchers in minimizing or concealing the harmful effects of DDT, PCB and asbestos. Prudence, therefore, is a must in the face of choices that profoundly change the context in which they are applied. The preliminary debate must be broad and in-depth and must involve all stakeholders, not just some.

      1. Beyond this necessary enlargement of the subjects legitimated to decide and returning to the scientific debate on GMOs, the opposition between “favorable experts” and “incompetent opponents” is radically false: it is a simplistic Manichean scheme to delegitimize the arguments of critics of transgenic agriculture, which must not be forgotten – it represents only a part of the largest agro-technological sector, certainly rich in useful solutions.

        1. Contrary to popular belief, inserting a foreign gene into an organism by transgenesis does not only mean determining a specific character but causing various chain effects. In 2002, Nobel laureate Dulbecco made it clear that introducing a new gene into a cell alters the function of a large number of other genes. What changes could cause the spread of GMOs in the environment is not easily foreseeable, but certainly cautionary criteria should be adopted.

          1. The spread of GMOs in the environment, which are not the result of slow natural evolution, can alter the ecological balance: pollen can contaminate spontaneous crops and plants by spreading the foreign gene without control.

            1. Also in terms of health, foods derived from GMOs hide risks for humans: every time a transgenic food product is ingested, this can cause allergies or intoxications, which we may not see immediately but which can produce effects after a while.

              1. The genome of each organism, and of the higher organisms in particular, is in a dynamic state, in contrast to the classical genetics vision of a stable and static genome. There are probably further aspects of DNA functioning, starting from portions not containing genetic information, which must be studied to understand the adaptive meaning of these structures.

                1. In global terms, intensive agriculture covers about 1.5 billion hectares of land that are treated with pesticides, other synthetic compounds and technological means. As has been highlighted by the FAO, in recent years the global area available for intensive agriculture has reached its maximum value, since the remaining 1.4 billion hectares (concentrated in some tropical and sub-tropical African countries Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Asia) “theoretically” available to expand the agricultural area, they are actually convertible only for a residual fraction, being occupied mostly by natural forests, protected areas or human structures and infrastructures. This means that an increase in global agricultural productivity may depend only on a possible increase, on a technological basis, in the yield of territories already over-exploited; an increase, however, whose margins are defined as modest by most international analysts.

                2. As for the environment, understood as a further field of application of genetic manipulations, it must be said that a rapidly developing area of biotechnology is that which uses microorganisms to degrade the polluting substances present in the environment and in the soil. To this end, experimentation and research have identified some systems such as: the increase of nutrients in the air or in the soil, thus determining the degradation of pollutants and the introduction of microorganisms and bacterial strains chosen specifically for their ability to detoxification. So, the fundamental principle is the use of microbial metabolism to convert pollutants into something harmless.

                3. Genetic engineering intervenes on plants by transferring genes between non-cross-plant species, in order to create plants resistant to unfavorable environmental conditions. In this way we proceed by isolating the genetic material of the different types of plant cells that we intend to transfer and then we proceed (through different techniques such as electroperforation or embryogenesis) with the insertion of the new DNA into the chromosome. These biotechnological applications, which lead to the formation of real transgenic plants, have in any case possible environmental risks, which mainly concern genetic pollution, the appearance of invasive organisms, the alteration of plant-parasite relationships, the change of the soil and, last but not least, the simplification of agro-ecosystems with a decrease in biodiversity.

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