By Eugene Deng
When people are asked whether or not they have eaten genetically modified (GM) food, they will most likely say, “I don’t know.”
GM food is made from crops that contain a foreign gene from another organism. An example of a GM food would be certain taco shells because the wheat used to make the shells was genetically modified. There are many ways to put in new genes into food. Scientists can use bacterial carriers or a technique called gene splicing, among many others.
Some risks that plants face with GM food is that modified crops might accidentally pass on the new genes to other plants, creating unwanted side effects. Wheat that is modified to be resistant to herbicides might accidentally pass on that gene to weeds, creating super weeds.
This can drastically change the environment because weeds can overtake crops. Another risk in making crops more durable is that there would be more of that crop, which would disturb the ecosystem.
Animals are also affected by the genetically modified crops, especially the insects. Many wheat crops have been modified so that they produce biopesticide (BT). These crops are supposed to kill most pests, but some insects will survive. In addition, these insects develop immunity to BT as the years pass. This means that the effectiveness of pesticides will be reduced. Studies also show that the BT from corn crops is killing many monarch butterflies, even though monarch butterflies eat milk weed and not corn. Many insects die from crops, but this hasn’t stopped the use of genetically modified crops.
Eating GM food is risky because scientists are introducing foreign genes into the food that we eat. There can be severe allergic reactions to the products if they are not tested correctly. There is also the fear that a new allergen might appear. Scientists have taken genes from fish and put them into strawberries. They have taken genes from other animals and put them into food. GM food is risky for our health.
So go organic. ♦
Eugene Deng can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(The stories in this issue are written by SYLP students, not Northwest Asian Weekly staff. Opinions herein do not necessarily represent the viewpoint of the newspaper.)