HIS2129 Chapter 0: Article Summary - The Future of Food by Margaret McLean

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1 Aug 2016
"The Future of Food: An Introduction to the Ethical Issues in Genetically
Modified Foods" pp. 80-83 by Margaret R. McLean
All plants contain genes – TRUE
Only genetically modified plants contain genes – FALSE
Plants can be modified to contain animal genes – TRUE
A tomato containing a jellyfish gene would taste like squid – FALSE
Genetically modified foods are available at Safeway – TRUE
75% of processed food produced in USA contain genetically modified
The old method was to use selective breeding to enhance crops, nowadays
molecular tools have allowed us to delete or inset genes to produce specific
Why would we want to? Longer shelf-life, enhanced nutrient content etc.
Manipulation of genes is called genetic engineering
GMO is a genetically modified organism
Moving genes between species creates transgenic plants and crops
Agricultural biotechnology also includes tissue and cell culture
Most common GM crops are those that can withstand herbicide spraying or
produce substances toxic to insects
First generation crops are aimed to benefit the farmers bottom line &
decreasing the use of herbicides
80% soybeans and 40% corn in USA is genetically modified
1st GM food produced was tomato in 1994 (Flavr Savr)
Pharma crops are designed to produce pharmaceuticals
“Risks of Genetic Engineering of Food Crops:
1. Potential risks to environment & wildlife
a. Genes may escape and find their way into other members of the
b. GM crops could compete or breed with wild species threatening
c. Monogenetic crops may not react sufficiently to environmental
stresses, posing the danger of a reenactment of Ireland’s potato
2. Potential risks to human health
a. Potential of allergy-producing genes will be inserted into unrelated
b. GM products may enter the human food supply unapproved
3. Potential socio-economic effects
a. Small-scale famers could be negatively impacted by the market
dominance of a few powerful seed companies
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