In the 1990s there was a significant threat in Hawaii known as the Papaya Ringspot virus which has been shown to cause tissue necrosis. Fortunately, researchers were able to save the fruit by developing a virus-resistant version, or genetically modified food, that looks and tastes the same as the original. However, that is just one of many cases where GMOs have come into play.
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Humans have been altering the genetics of organisms for over thirty thousand years. Early versions of this began with our ancestors in a process called “selective breeding.” The creation of the first genetically engineered organism was in 1973. Herb Boyer and Stanley Cohen managed to alter the bacterium known as E. coli. Their work laid the foundation for future research and engineering. Immediately controversy rose amongst media, government officials, and scientists. Though the debate of GMO safety environmental or health concerns is on going the scientific community has deemed genetically engineered foods safe. By looking at the purposes and possibilities, environmental and safety concerns, and the regulations and labeling of genetically modified foods, we can see that they benefit our society and are essential to our future.
Let’s start with the purposes and possibilities of GMOs. GM crops are engineered for a tolerance to pesticides and herbicides and for resistance to other threats such as fungus, insects, weeds, and disease. They are developed for faster growth rates and the ability to handle environmental disaster. GM foods are also designed to prevent bruising and eliminate browning as in the foods such as potatoes and apples. Scientists argue that biotechnology can produce fast-growing, disease and infestation immune crops that will successfully grow in difficult environments while providing much needed nutritional value able to correct widespread public health issues such as global hunger and malnutrition from lack of vitamins and minerals.
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