The molecular biology
revolution over the last four decades has enabled biologists to exchange
genetic material between different organisms. While most of this genetic
engineering is done for basic research programs to study the behavior
of genes and proteins, the agricultural and pharmaceutical industry
have exploited recombinant DNA technology to modify the genetic make-up of organisms
(plants, animals, bacteria, viruses) to add or remove certain desired
or detrimental characteristics.
The ease of exchange of genetic material
across species, kingdom and domain boundaries and virtually between any organisms is possible
because of the common evolutionary history of all modern life forms.
Genetically modified organisms are best known as those agricultural
products that are changed in there genetic makeup to improve resistance against pesticides
and natural parasites, allow increased shelf-life for transportation
and storage, or change the texture and flavor, and even nutritional quality
by manipulating micro-nutrient content (e.g. vitamin A in rice; human
growth hormone in cow milk).
While genetic engineering is not controversial
for biomedical purposes, genetically modified organism engineered to 'improve'
our food, e.g. soy bean 'round up ready' which optimizes agricultural
production, but does not change the quality of soy protein or soy
lipid, meets strong opposition among consumers. But what are the real risks and more importantly, are there hidden risks that over the short period of GMO use have simply not have enough time to materialize, because the individual chance of a catastrophic event is very small, the number of events makes it certain that one such event happens eventually.
food containing GMO products be labeled? | Is there a special risk to GMOs?
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