GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS: During a time when society is moving so quickly and demanding the best results people have turned to high-speed wireless internet and retired the dial-up net, exchanged their ’98 civics for sleek new hybrids, and discarded the idea of home phones and replaced them with I-phones and Blackberries. These same human evolvements have resulted in better medical facilities, higher education and an increase in overall global awareness. But it has also introduced a villainess counterpart in the way of pollution and global warming. In the same respect there has also been the development of genetically modified foods; they too are a negative consequence of rapid human growth and development. Genetically modified foods (hereafter referred to as GM foods) are foods that have been genetically manipulated in order to give them optimal characteristics for mass production and consumption. The biotechnology that is used for this mass production has been skepticised by governments and society and often ruled as unsafe. The distribution and production of genetically modified foods and ingredients should not be legal in Canada due to countless health risks as well as environmental hazards and the impact they have on the Canadian economy.
The average Canadians’ diet today is heavily impacted by GM foods, mainly though soybeans and herbicide; soy is found in many pre-packaged products and herbicides impact fruits and vegetables. The modifications that are made to the genes of these foods are mainly to create a “super food”. For example the genes of fish are often inserted into Canadian crops so that they are able to grow in cooler climates than is natural. The desired trait is inserted into the DNA of the crop through a process called recombinant DNA technology. The introduction of GM foods began in Canada in 1994 with “Flavr Savr”, which is a genetically modified tomato; almost immediately it became a common practice to modify all foods. Whether it be to create seedless watermelons, make bananas ripen slower to allow for transport time or the use of pesticides, they are all are harmful to the Canadian economy, environment and to public health.
Canadian laws regarding GM foods are not sufficient in protecting its nation from the damage that is caused by GM foods. Currently the government just requires companies to provide scientific reports regarding the modifications that are made and once approve the products can be sold throughout the country. The country does not have any solid guidelines that outline what the government considers to be “safe” but deal with modifications at a case by case basis.
There are many health risks that are associated with the mass consumption of GM foods; these extend from mutations to allergic reactions. Allergies are a becoming more and more common in Canada, so much so that most school do not allow children to have nuts in or around the school. It is feared that when genes are inserted into crops such as soybeans a new allergen can develop and result in a mass outbreak of allergic reactions. The severity of reactions or even the existence of them can only be discovered through extensive testing that has proven to be expensive and sometimes inconclusive. Human gene manipulation due to the consumption of GM foods is another extremely controversial issue that arises. The effects of GM foods on humans is still unknown, but many scientists fear that by exposing humans to the altered genes of the plants there is a chance that the human genes may be altered and result in mutations. Studies have been conducted in order to prove and disprove this theory, but still little is known and all studies have proven to be inconclusive.
Biotechnology is an extremely expensive field and this results in it having a negative impact on the Canadian economy. The increased expense that occurs with the development of GM foods is mirrored in an increase in the cost of product for the consumer. This will result in a drop of profit for the Canadian agriculture economy. Mass production of GM foods also make the gap between developed nations like Canada and developing nations larger; farmers in developing countries will not be able to manage the expenses that the modified foods will require. This can result in poor trade relations between Canada and developing countries because they are unable to afford the cost of the GM foods.
The largest impact that the GM foods are having on society is in terms of the environment; GM foods are depleting the conditions of our environment at a much quicker rate. The constant transferring of genes cause the original species of crop to become extinct and this new “super food” will have replaced the organic species. The new species may also result in the destruction of animals that consume it naturally but with the genetic modifications are unable to do so. Another fear is the creation of “super weeds,” these are weeds that are resistant to pesticides and herbicides because they have cross bread with genes of a modified plant. In many cases GM foods are created to reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides, but insects and pests will evolve and adapt to the resistant genes of the plants resulting in an unnecessary creation of a GM crop.
The Canadian government requires the banning of all GM foods and ingredients because it causes harm to the environment, health and to the economy. The current laws that are in place do not provide a clear understanding for consumers about the modifications made to the food and most Canadians are unaware of the damage that GM foods are causing. The government needs to take charge and stop all distribution of this food in order to ensure economic security, avoid harming humans and the environment.
(photo from: http://www.flickr.com/people/dundee2001/)