There is much debate ongoing about genetically modified produce. On the one hand, we are being urged to shun it absolutely, and on the other we are being urged to embrace it in the interests of our own health. So what is the truth about genetically modified produce?
The genetically modified lamb
Chinese scientists recently cloned a lamb called Peng Peng in the far western region of Xinjiang. The specialty of this sheep is that the fat quality is different from normal sheep. Rather than regular animal fat, this lamb has been genetically modified to have the kind of healthy fat that is found in seeds, nuts, and fatty fish.
It is the same healthy fats (polyunsaturated fatty acids) that prevent heart disease in humans. Whether this genetic modification will have any impact on livestock rearing is something that may or may not become significant in the future.
But what has been done is center the debate on genetically modified produce once again. What really are the pros and cons of GM foods?
Benefits of genetically modified foods
There are many benefits of genetically modified foods for the manufacturers that help bring down production costs and increase yields.
Plants can be genetically modified to become resistant to pests and disease so that they become hardier.
Modifications can also be made genetically to increase the amount of nutrition that is derived from a given food.
Possible problems with genetically modified food
Firstly genetically modified foods strike people as being somehow unnatural and going against the natural order of things. This itself is a cause for concern. Then there is the fact that we really do not know what the longer term consequences of consuming these food products could be.
There is concern about how the body reacts to substances that may be considered new. So there is the concern that the body may be less able to digest GM produce and this could affect organ functioning over time.
There are also other concerns that GM foods could create new allergens and cause strong reactions among people.
Environmentalists frequently express the concerns about the impact GM foods can have on the environment. They could be toxic to animals and could also have negative impacts on wild plants they argue.