Reflection Essay on Genetically Modified Foods

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Genetically Modified Foods Assignment #6 By Danish Ahmed 103323080 2633-2 Lauzon Road Windsor, ON. N8T 2Z5 (519)-251-1776 ahmed12q@uwindsor. ca 26-100-91 Legebow December 6, 2010 2-2633 Lauzon Road Windsor, Ontario, N8T 2Z5 December 6, 2010 Chris Legebow Professor English Dept. University of Windsor Dear Prof. Legebow, I am writing to submit Assignment #6. Throughout my time enrolled in this course, I have learned many valuable lessons. However, the most important lesson that I have learned is how to be a better writer.

By completing the various assignments in this course, particularly the substantiation assignment, I have learned how to better explain my opinions as well as support them. However, one of the major challenges that I faced in this course was properly citing my work. Since I have used a different style of citation throughout high school, it was difficult for me to adjust to the new citation rules at the university level. With regards to assignment six, I enjoyed completing this assignment. Part of the reason why I enjoyed it was that it was a topic that I really liked.

However, the tricky part of the assignment, according to me, was coming up with facts to support the essay. Nevertheless, I believe that I did a pretty good job finding enough evidence to support the thesis. Overall, I was pretty satisfied with this course. Although I did not achieve the mark I desired, I still learned valuable lessons throughout the course of this subject. One specific quality that I liked about this course was the use of Turnitin. It was a very helpful tool which made handing in assignment very easy and convenient. Another aspect of the course that I really admired was the availability of the Catalyst.

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Due to its easy access, I was able to learn key skills to help strengthen my assignments. Last but not least, the use of peer review was very beneficial as well. It was a very unique tool to help students improve their essay. One thing that I do recommend for the future is to provide the students with a grading criteria. Often times, I was confused as to what I need to incorporate to ensure I receive the proper marks. Nevertheless, this is a very educational course and I highly recommend it to future students. I wish to thank you for reviewing my assignment.

If you have any question please contact me at ahmed12q@uwindsor. ca and (519)-251-1776 to reach you at. Sincerely, Danish Ahmed Student Number: 103323080 Business Administration DA ENCLOSURES: Assignment #6 COPY: FILE Genetically Modified Foods The release and use of genetically modified (GM) crops and GM-derived ingredients has caused debates in many parts of the world. Moreover, many experts, despite having conflicting views, share a good deal of common ground on certain features of the GM debate: in particular, the GM foods’ unknown long term effects.

In other words, experts agree that many issues, like potential health, ecological, and economical hazards, concerning GM foods merit attention due to the current, uncertain results of GM food technology. GM crops come under the broad category of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and defined as organisms whose genetic information has been altered by DNA Recombinant Technology (a technique that allows the artificial combination of genetic material of different individuals) (Whitman 1). Although this scientific technique is fairly recent, it has, nevertheless, revolutionized the agricultural industry.

Scientist are now able to produce new species of rice, maize, soy bean, corn and many other staple crops with resistance to drought, herbicides and many pests (Campbell and Reece 406). As such, it holds the potential to increase crop yield as fewer crops are destroyed due to environmental conditions. However, it was not until 1998 when GM crops’ initial drawbacks were realized. Genetically modified foods, including both raw crops and processed ingredients, impose serious health risks, both to humans and other organisms.

Moreover, there is evidence that genetic modifications can trigger uncontrollable genetic interactions amongst the host genes, endangering many agricultural species. In August 1998 the first controversy was sparked, especially in Europe, by a report from a leading nutrition researcher, Dr. Arpad Pusztai, concerning the safety of GM foods. Pusztai claimed that GM food fed rats showed stunted growth and weak immune systems. His report, however, was greatly criticized and rejected by many scientists because of lack of substantial evidence (Pusztai 1).

Nevertheless, the report opened up an area of contemplation. In May 2005, a report published by Monsanto, a leading biotech firm, confirmed differences in kidney sizes and blood composition of rats fed with GM corn (Lendman 1). Although these documented reports are limited to laboratory settings, the results do point to a possibility of health hazards in the long run. It is evident that GM foods require more research before they are safe for consumption because if the symptoms do arise, it will affect a wide range of consumers and the damage will be impossible to overcome.

Apart from direct health hazards, there are concerns over the emergence of insecticide resistant weeds and pests because of GM foods (Weaver 160). Since certain species of GM crops are resistant to insecticides, they allow farmers to spray more chemicals in order to avoid weeds and pests from destroying their harvests. However, since all living organisms are biological entities subject to the natural processes of evolution and ecology, any insecticide designed to kill an organism adds selective pressure for resistance on that target organism. According to S. A Weaver and M. C.

Morris of the Journal of Agriculture and Environmental Ethics, this theoretical concern has been repeatedly demonstrated with the emergence of antibiotic resistance bacteria in human medicine and in the evolution of resistance to chemical pesticides in agriculture (Weaver 161). There are over 500 species of insects known to be resistant to insecticides, and the numbers will steadily grow if not controlled (Bergman 1). Insecticide resistance poses severe effects to agriculture and health. If pests become resistant to conventional insecticides, more quantities of more powerful chemicals may have to be used.

This increased use of insecticides will, in turn, increase chemical exposure on other forms of life in the surrounding area, including humans, and will have adverse effects on soil and water due to run offs (National Research Council 2). These effects are amplified in regions where GM crops are planted as GM crops, unlike conventional crops, do not absorb or breakdown any of these chemicals. As such, more chemicals are left over in active form. Nevertheless, the lives of humans and other organisms are endangered.

Another potential health concern in using GM foods is the possibility of allergic reactions in humans due to the insertion of exotic genes into plants. This hazard came into notice in 1993 when Pioneer Hi-Bred International, another biotech firm, developed a soybean variety with an added gene from a Brazil nut. A study later done by the University of Nebraska revealed that the added gene could cause allergic reactions in humans (Leary 1). The second category of risks is that to the environment, especially by insecticide-resistant GM crops. Insecticide-resistant crops make up the largest segment of GM crops.

According to statistics, nearly 81% of all GM crops harvested worldwide contained a gene for insecticide resistance (Sustainable Agricultural Network 3). Since all agricultural systems exist within an overall ecosystem, there is concern among scientists that numerous complex interrelationships amongst natural organisms can become disrupted by the introduction of GM crops. This concern became particularly important in a study done in the United Kingdom in May 2005 which proved that biodiversity was lower in fields with insecticide-resistant crops when compared to the conventional varieties (Weaver 169).

The reason for the shocking results was attributed to the physical differences between insecticide resistant plants and conventional crops. Insecticide resistant plants have immunity to chemicals and pests because they produce a form of toxic protein called Bt protein (Weaver 160). During conventional insecticide spraying, only the above ground part of the plant is exposed to chemicals. However, in the case of insecticide resistant GM crops, toxin is present throughout the plant, even in the roots. When the GM crops are harvested, the remains of the roots release these Bt toxins.

Thus, the concentration of toxins in the soil is increased, endangering even the beneficial organisms of the area. The effect of toxins expressed through GM crops is, therefore, of real concern. However, the biggest environmental concern associated with genetic modification is the inability to prevent exotic genetic material from transferring into the wild population. Many experts are concerned that the genes inserted into GM crops to increase their yield might transfer into weeds by complex genetic movement pathways (Pandey 1).

This would cause the spread of “super weeds. ” Such weeds will become immune to the chemicals normally used to control them, resulting in the use of stronger chemical controls (Randerson 1). The surrounding population of organisms, including humans, will inevitably be affected with increased toxicity in the environment. There is also a concern that insect resistance genes in GM plants may escape into the wild, leading to the more rapid development of resistance in insect populations, or to insect resistance in wild plants.

Nevertheless, the delicate relationship that exists in the ecosystem will be disrupted, as the normal insect-plant relationship will be altered. Although these are one of the first instances of genetic transfer, scientists are now beginning to question GM foods’ implications on the environment. The third category of risks is that relating to economics. Despite increased yields, GM crops remain an economical concern, especially to the third world. This concern is highlighted by the development of a highly controversial genetically modified food technology – the terminator seed.

The terminator seeds are genetically modified to produce plants that bear infertile seeds, which the biotech companies feel will reduce gene transfer into the wild (McDonagh 1). However, analysts feel these seeds could devastate small farmers everywhere and give multinational biotech companies an even stronger grip on world food production since terminator technology will force farmers to buy new seeds every season instead of reusing seeds from their crops (Mooney 1). Even if terminator technology is outlawed, GM crops will still not allow third world nations to compete with the developed countries in the area of agriculture.

Since all of the major genetically modified seeds are patented by multinational biotech companies, the prices of these seeds are controlled by such corporations (Nestle 1). Struggling economies, whose major financial resources depend on agricultural exports, are unable to purchase these seeds. Moreover, conventional crops are no match to the increased harvests of GM crops. As such, most of the market share is owned by developed nations who harbour major biotech companies. Hence, the global economy is affected due to the sanctioning of GM foods.

In conclusion, the concern about the genetic modification of food is an issue that involves complex area of study, like health, ecology and economics. The combination of theoretical knowledge and empirical data provided clearly outlines the associated risks of genetic modification of food/crops in the long run. Unlike conventional crops, GM crops are inherently unstable in expressing their genetic information and exhibit abnormal proteins which cause fatal allergic reactions and other health risks in humans and other organisms.

Moreover, the genetic transfer of information from GM crops to the wild can promote the evolution of “super weeds” and insecticide resistant pests, causing disturbances in delicate ecological relationships and increased use of pesticides. Furthermore, the decision to release GM foods holds important economic concerns that must be addressed when assessing the risks of GM foods. The terminator seed technology as well as increased involvement of biotech corporations in the agriculture business can bring about changes in the global economy, some of which could be catastrophic for the developing nations.

Works Cited Bergman, Jerry. Pesticide Resistance in Insects: Bad News for Macroevolution Theory. Association of Alberta. April 2004. Web. 28 Nov 2010. Campbell, Neil, and Jane Reece. Biology. San Francisco: Pearson, 2005. Print. Leary, Warren. Genetic Engineering of Crops Can Spread Allergies, Study Shows. New York Times. 14 March 1996. Web. 28 Nov 2010. Lendman, Stephen. Health Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods. Rense. 22 February 2008. Web. 28 Nov 2010. McDonagh, Sean. The Pros and Cons of GE Foods. Columban. 2003. Web. 28 Nov 2010. Mooney, Pat. Terminator Seeds Threaten an End to Farming.

Third World Traveler. 1998. Web. 28 Nov 2010. National Research Council. Ecologically Based Pest Management: New Solutions for a New Century. Washington DC: National Academy Press, 1996. Print. Nestle, Marion. One Company. Lots of Patented Seeds. Most of Your Food. The Daily Green. 12 March 2010. Web. 28 Nov 2010. Pandey, A. Genetically modified food: Its uses, future prospects and safety assessments. Science Alert. 21 October 2010. Web. 28 Nov 2010. Pusztai, Arpad. Genetically Modified Foods: Are They a Risk to Human/Animal Health?. ActionBioscience. June 2001. Web. 28 Nov 2010.

Randerson, James. Genetically-modified Superweeds "not uncommon" . New Scientist. 5 February 2002. Web. 28 Nov 2010. Sustainable Agriculture Network. Clarification on the Prohibition of Genetically Modified Crops. Sustainable Agriculture Network. July 2008. Web. 28 Nov 2010. Weaver, Sean. "Risks associated with genetic modification: An annotated bibliography of peer reviewed natural science publications. " Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics 18. 2 (2005):157-189. Print. Whitman, Deborah. Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?. ProQuest. April 2000. Web. 28 Nov 2010.

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