When diseases are the talk of the century, even though it’s still only the first part of the century, people will talk about anything as the cause. The most frequent cause is genetic mutation. When people say genetic mutation, they often mean artificial mutations of plants and other food sources. Animals are usually fed with various food sources, many of which are believed to be genetically modified. This is often believed to be the cause of various diseases and problems, most of which have started occurring in the modern world. Is this something we should fear or embrace? It depends.
What is a Genetic Mutation?
Genetic mutation can mean so many things. Genetic mutations are very different, they are classified by an effect on structure, fitness or function. They can also affect the protein structure, which are a different kind of mutation. Hereditary mutations are another kind of mutation. There are also conditional mutations, which occur in very severe situations, for example, exposure to extremely high or low temperatures, which may lead to cell death or change. If that cell were to multiply, it would create a different part, which can best be seen in plants which grow flowers of a completely different color. But, mutations are also divided into two other categories, beneficial and harmful. Now, what does this have to do with food? Everything.
Genetic Engineering of Food – GM Food
This has been done for millenia, actually. As soon as humans started being involved in agriculture, they have cross-bred plants to improve their resistance to various things, but mostly weather, sometimes insects. Because insects, pests and herbs can often destroy a crop or a farm, chemical use has become frequent. This does get rid of the various pests, herbs and insects, but also damages the plants themselves. In order for the industry to be more efficient, especially in developing countries, various foods have been genetically modified to be resistant to various toxins. Some of them have been modified to include more beta carotene, which is very essential to Vitamin A and consequently, our eyesight. Other foods have been modified so that they can be edible without other treatments. Why is this an issue for some people?
GM Food Causing Diseases
It was found in a study performed by Gilles-Eric Seralini and other scientists, that rats which were fed genetically modified maize, Monsanto-created, all developed heart, liver and kidney problems, some of them tumors. This study was published in 2012 and led to a major outbreak of disgust for GM food. Some countries banned the import of Monsanto-modified maize for a short time after that study had been published. Various other studies found that the maize had no significant effect on the test rats, not to mention humans.
Should We Welcome Genetic Engineering?
Genetic engineering is important, because some plants like bananas, not to mention other plants like papayas, wouldn’t be able to survive without it. But, because genetic engineering can introduce other variables which we might not know about, scientific reviews from peers should be a necessity, a requirement for any type of genetically modified food to be allowed to be produced and eaten by anybody.
The future will hold more genetic engineering, of plants, animals even, the question is how severely monitored and reviewed it will be.