Student’s Good Work> Anthology of English essays -Genetically Modified Food - is it a blessing?


Genetically Modified Food - is it a blessing?
by Lei Ho Fung (6B)

How much do you know about your favourite dishes?  You may be surprised to know that most food is modified by incredible technology!

Thirty years ago, the world’s first genetically modified (GM) crop, a batch of potatoes, was harvested.  People believed that they had found the way to solve the problem of food shortage.  Recently, GM potatoes have been approved to be planted commercially and served on dining tables.  It is claimed that these potatoes not only resist bruising but also contain fewer substances that cause cancer.

It seems that there are quite a lot of benefits to produce GM food. Advocates stress that GM food helps alleviate hunger.  It requires less nutrition to plant the same amount and is more adaptable to poor conditions such as drought. In turn the food supply becomes more stable thus the price could be lowered and made more affordable for the poor.  The genes which generate different nutrition are added whereas genes which lead to natural food decay are removed.  Genetic modification also improves the nutritional value of food as well as the food quality.  GM food is therefore suitable to be applied to places where people suffer from starvation.

However, is GM food really a blessing? The manufacturers actually combine genes from various creatures.  They add genes of fish, spiders, even insects and rat into the seeds to grow tomatoes that resist a low temperature or corns that resist weed.  This is not only disgusting but induces risks.  The technology is still young, and there is currently no evidence to prove its safety.  Some people believe that GM food is harmful and may lead to cancer.  People who eat GM food are definitely guinea pigs.  Worse still, much GM food is sold without permission.  Consumers have no idea about the "content" of their food.  There were cases in which someone who was allergic to peanuts was "killed" as the food he had eaten contained no peanut but only genes of peanuts!

Besides, GM destroys the nature.  Growing GM plants in nature may cause genetic contamination.  Since GM organisms (GMO) are more competitive, they put the original species at risk of extinction, declining the biodiversity, and thus destroying our environment.  When GM crops pass their modified genes to insects and weeds, genes contamination is the consequence.  The ‘super pests’ and ‘super weeds’ can no longer be killed, but has become a threat to the food supply.  By then, we who live in developed countries or those who live in poverty would suffer from food shortage.  We humans will eventually pay for meddling with nature.

Do people say that this invention aims to solve the problem of "food shortage"?  What I can see is that people throw food away in some part of the world while, in other parts, the poor have nothing to eat; people in developed countries die of obesity while those in poor countries die of hunger. We should not let genetic engineering become an excuse of food wastage.