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Genetically Modified Foods & Crops

While the twentieth century may be known as the century of chemistry and physics, the twenty-first century may well be known as the century of biotechnology. Current technologies enable scientists to create genetically engineered organisms by using the basic building blocks of living matter, genes. This ability offers the world a number of advances, from curing diseases to human cloning. One of the biggest advances, according to some, is already here û genetically engineered crops and foods. Genetically engineered crops are new kinds of crops. Biotechnologists use certain genes from one organism and introduce them into another organism to produce a desirable trait. For example, the antifreeze gene from fish has been introduced into tomatoes to help make them frost-resistant. Scientists have also used specific genes from soil bacteria which is toxic to a number of different pests. According to the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology (2004), ôThis protein, referred to as Bt, is produced by the plant, thereby making it resistant to insect pests like the European Corn Borer or Cotton Boil Wormö (Genetically 1). Other crops are introduced with weed-resistant genes, making them known as one of a variety of ôRoundup Readyö crops. Monsanto produces the pesticide Roundup.

While many argue that genetically engineered foods are beneficial in a number of ways, others argue that there are potentially numerous dangers that may result from their use. Such dangers include a detrimental impact on human health and the environment. Countries like Japan and the EU have banned imports of genetically engineered crops or foods made from them, but within the past year the six-year moratorium on such products in the EU expired. Likewise, consumer advocacy groups have lobbied the government and the Food and Drug Administration for tighter controls over genetically engineered crops. While science often promises progress and beneficial ...

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