Advantages and disadvantages of transgenic foods

The transgenic foods are those having in its composition at least one ingredient derived from an organism which have been applied modifications or genetic techniques , ie that is not itself of the original species. GMOs are organisms that have been modified through genetic engineering in which one or more genes from other species have been introduced. Next we will learn more about these foods and about their advantages and disadvantages.

Transgenic foods
DefinitionThey are those foods that receive a genetic manipulation that changes their composition. With these modifications, one or more genes that come from other organisms are incorporated into them.
Advantage-Improves food quality
-Ensures the obtaining of nutrients
-Reduces the use of pesticides
-Greater resistance against drought, insects, fungi and other harmful agents
Disadvantages-Potential environmental
-Impact on biodiversity -Impacts on health -Dependence on
biotech monopolies

What are transgenic foods?

Those that receive genetic manipulation are known as transgenic foods . Through these modifications, one or more genes that come from other organisms are incorporated into them. At present, it is estimated that about 70% of the foods that we consume habitually with transgenics, since they contain at least one gene that is not typical of their species.

The way in which transgenics are developed is from a selection, among the millions of cells that a living being has, of those that are the carriers of the desired chromosomes. This is an experimental task, as the cell is neither perfect nor exact, which implies that the results may be different and varied. Once selected, the cells are grown in the heritage that has been genetically modified , which can lead to an even greater transformation if the bacteria generate growing hormones. The one in charge of making these modifications is genetic engineering , which allows scientists to pass a desired gene from one plant or animal to another. With engineering scientists select thespecific gene to be implanted, and this avoids introducing genes that generate unwanted traits.

The first experiments carried out on transgenic foods were in the 70s. The first food that began to be commercialized with genes that were not those of its species was a tomato, Flav Sabor, which had been altered to give it a better taste and a longer duration. Then with the passage of time more agricultural products were incorporated, hand in hand with the always adulterated seeds in response to the new times.

What types of genes are used in transgenics?

Currently, transgenic crops and foods on the market mainly incorporate genes from bacteria with quite wide possibilities. It is analyzed and investigated with genes from mice in pigs, genes from fish in feeds, human genes in rice, among many others.

Advantages of transgenic foods

Thanks to the great scientific advances and the great knowledge that has been acquired about genetic manipulation, the production of transgenic foods represents an evolutionary step and brings with it certain advantages.

  • Improves food quality

Through knowledge about the degradation and composition processes of food, strategies have been developed that allow increasing the usefulness of a plant, so that the transport and the time of use of this food is facilitated.

  • Ensures the obtaining of nutrients

Through genetic modification, foods can be developed that have the nutrients that are considered necessary for human consumption, such as vitamins, antioxidants, which are sometimes difficult to obtain from natural sources.

  • Reduction in the use of pesticides

By developing plants that directly express their weapon against the insects that attack them, a reduction is generated in the amount of pesticides and insecticides used and that could also be consumed by animals and humans at the same time, with potential negative effects.

  • Greater resistance against drought, insects, fungi and other damaging agents

One of the biggest objectives when creating transgenic foods is to be able to protect them from the damage that they can suffer from other natural agents. This protection will also benefit humans, as it will increase the production of food that could not otherwise be consumed.

In addition, taking into account the possible consequences of climate change, there is the possibility of protecting plants that can resist droughts and high temperatures, as well as requiring fewer environmental resources such as water and fertilizers.

Other possible benefits of GMO foods:

  • More nutritious and more appetizing food.
  • Increased supply of food at a reduced cost and with a longer shelf life.
  • More accelerated growth in plants and animals.
  • Foods with more desirable characteristics.
  • Creation of medicinal foods that could be used as vaccines or other medicines.

Disadvantages of GM foods

Like all technological advances, it has its advantages and also its disadvantages, it is for this reason that there are certain controls and regulatory bodies that are in charge of approving or not the consumption of these foods. Among the main disadvantages of this type of food we can find:

  • Potential environmental consequences

Different organizations oppose the spread of transgenic foods since they consider that genetically modified plants and animals can cause great environmental damage.

  • Impact on biodiversity

Some researchers argue that the creation of genetically modified organisms can cause the loss of wild species. For example, the use of the Bt protein can cause the disappearance of different species of insects.

  • Impacts on health

This is one of the great concerns about the consumption of transgenic food due to its great allergenic effect. Despite this, it is considered that the possibility of a transgenic food causing an allergy is the same as any other food.

Another criticism of transgenic foods on the impacts on health is that mutations develop in those who consume the product. However, this has also been shown not to be possible.

  • Dependence on biotech monopolies

The production of genetically modified plants and animals are mostly carried out by large companies, who seek their economic benefit and have strategies so that farmers can only depend on them. This creates biotech monopolies.

Other possible downsides of GMO foods:

  • Unexpected and harmful genetic changes.
  • The wrong transfer of genes from a genetically modified plant or animal to another plant or animal whose purpose is not genetic modification.
  • Creating foods that are less nutritious

Beyond all these disadvantages, these concerns have proved to this day to be unfounded. None of the GM foods used today have caused some of these problems.

There are different agencies, such as the US Food and Drug Administration, that evaluate all GM foods to ensure they are safe before they are marketed. In addition, other institutions are in charge of regulating plants and animals product of bioengineering and analyze the safety of these foods for both humans and animals, plants and the environment.

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