View Full Version : So what's the deal with genetically altered fruits/veggies?
03-25-2003, 07:54 PM
What exactly is it that they do? I've yet to see any man-eating tomatos from experiments gone horribly wrong.
I hear lots of outcry about "natural" food and the evils and dangers of altered ones, but what exactly have we developed?
Same question with livestock, if it applies.
Here you go:
03-25-2003, 08:12 PM
I'm willing to bet this topic has been debated at great length on this MB, maybe you should try a search first.
I'm sure you will find more links than you have the time to read on this topic.
03-25-2003, 08:13 PM
AFAIK, Genetically altered food is just the result of changing the DNA of the food. For example, DNA from other plants/animals can be inserted into the genome of fruits in order to introduce a desirable trait. Examples of results scientists hope to achieve using this procedure include pest resistant fruits/veggies (therefore, no need for pesticides), larger fruits/veggies, and weather resistant fruits/veggies (introduce plants into new climates). There are plenty other things scientists are working on, but those are a few. Basically, genetically altered food is akin to creating hybrid crops (when similar species DNA is used). I would guess that there is not much harm to humans that could befall this type of application (ie: mixing one type of tomato with another), however introducing other species' DNA is a relatively new practice. While there is no evidence that this procedure is harmful, people do seem to be freaking out about it and going all natural, which means using only organic materials (ie: no chemical fertilizer or pesticides). That's about all I know, and sorry, no cites. Perhaps you could poke around google and dig up some more detailed sites.
03-25-2003, 08:23 PM
Without stirring up the hornets' nest that this topic tends to produce, it's also worth considering the fact that almost nothing we eat today would have been found in "nature" 10,000 years ago. Once humans began growing their food instead of chasing it, they started selective breeding and cross-breeding, practices that gradually changed the genetic makeup of our foods.
The only thing that's now changed is the method by which the genetic changes are being effected. Some argue that directly manipulating the DNA is more dangerous than previous breeding and cross-breeding practices, because we're esssentially short-circuiting nature. Others argue that it's actually safer, since previous breeding practices relied on luck ("Let's cross-breed these two plants, and see what happens"), whereas DNA manipulation is more targeted.
03-25-2003, 10:36 PM
I'll add one more point to the last two posts. Several varieties of "non-GM" food that we eat has been created by intentionally causing DNA damage with chemicals or radiation, then seeing whether the resulting plant had any beneficial mutations. It's not all cross-breeding. Apparently, this is OK with the natural-types.
03-26-2003, 12:54 AM
Some examples include tomatoes that have delayed ripening, so they stay good on the shelf longer and various grains that have been made resistant to the Bt toxin, a pesticide.
03-26-2003, 04:40 AM
Also without wanting to stir up a debate, the fundamental difference (at least I have heard it called one) between GM and selective breeding is that GM can involve the introduction of genetic material from a very different organism - say, an animal gene inserted into a plant - this is something that isn't possible by hybridising and selecting desirable traits.
Not wanting to assert whether this is 'good' or 'bad', but it does seem to be a significant difference.
03-26-2003, 08:40 AM
Since I became aware of how many people have sensitivities or allergies to food we have NOW, I've been a bit more concerned about GM foods in general. I'm concerned that some of the introduced genetic material (or modified genetic material) may cause problems if eaten.
Before last year, I had no idea how many people had problems with grains (celiac disease and other allergies.) It's been a real eye-opener for me.
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