Genetically Modified Foods  (GMOs) – How safe are we?  

Mon, 19 Dec 2016 12:33:34 +0000


By Makeli Phiri

The population of Zambia is growing every day and land is not expanding at all.

The increasing population means the nation would need extra food to feed this growing population.

Therefore, the food is in great need to feed the additional people, and the research now comes in with their ideas of manipulating the plants that give us this good food we are enjoying with the hope of increasing output from the altered plant organisms.

We know very well that the natural plants take their time to mature and produce the fruit or grain that come to our table each day.

God has designed their growing pattern. God is the source of life (Psalm 36:9).

And going through this verse there is no real evidence that God disapproves of the selective breeding of animals and plants, this indeed has helped this world to sustain the millions of people which includes people living in Zambia.

The manipulation of the various plants and animals in order to produce more food for mankind through genetic modification is the alternative to high yields from any type of crop that can and is grown.

This science behind the genetically modified foods is called biotechnology, this is the use of modern genetics to improve plants, plants, animals and microorganisms for food production.

The practice may be as old as agriculture itself, farmers could have been exchanging animals for the sake of improving their stocks and so this has gone down in generations.

Today it is more scientific to modify the genes of any plant or animal and the bio technician would target the genes of interest depending on what is to be manipulated.

Today the modern bio technician employs living organisms to modify any product at his disposal and this is done by allowing the modification of the genetic material of organisms directly and precisely.

And this enables the transfer of genes between completely unrelated organisms and allows the combinations unlikely to occur by conventional means.

Breeders can now take the desired qualities from other organisms and put them into the genome of a plant for example disease resistance from viruses and insect resistance from soil bacteria.

In Zambia today our staple food maize has been altered to be a high producing plant in a specified period according to the rainy season.

Some varieties would take a shorter period and others longer periods depending on the rainfall pattern.

In Zambia we have three ecological zones which receive different amounts of rainfall and the maize seed (different varieties) have been bred to suit these three zones.

Countries all over the world are now growing genetically modified crops and there is no way we can say we do not have genetically modified foods in our breakfast, lunch or dinner.

In most cases these foods we eat may not be labeled and our tastes may not distinguish them from the natural because we are used to them and the access to the natural may not be there to compare.

Modified crops in our local grains would definitely give higher levels of proteins and such super plants could indeed pass their useful new genes and traits on to succeeding generations, yielding higher harvests on marginal and in poor overpopulated areas of the nation, plant breeders have taken this upon themselves to improve the yield of any crop food for the human race.

Now after having read how crop modification is done in a simpler way, then, how safe is this genetically modified food to us who are consistently consuming these genetically modified foods.

Yes the research and implementers of genetically modified foods have done what they think is the best for human beings, but there is unforeseen consequences that are likely to show up in us that is unintended results that are threats to human health.

The safety of these foods we are consuming is not well known therefore, although we are still eating genetically modified foods the potential for danger is there.

No wonder the government is trying by all means to do away with genetically modified foods for the sake of future generations.

As part of genetic modification of plants from which the bulk of our food comes from, is altered and the desired genes embedded in such plants.

These genes have the potential to provide resistance to antibiotics and would contribute heavily to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

The farmer may be happy to have a crop that is giving him good income but does he know what he is contributing to the health downfall of the human being.

Some genes that may be introduced may produce a protein toxic to insect pests. And such genes planted in plants may and will help the pests develop resistance and thus render pesticides useless.

It is important to increase the food resources of this nation but we must be conscious of the techniques we employ in producing these food crops.

The farmer must be helped by the breeder as well as by the researcher to come up with the safe mode of producing these precious crops of ours.

Research should be more effective to benefit the poorer parts of the world than just taking technologies that are not fully proven.

I believe there are many more efficient solutions to food problems.

Land is limited, as a nation let us use this resource to the best of our ability to feed the growing population.

Cities and towns are expanding and more and more land is being alienated to urban use rather than farming.

However, the potential is still there to produce the required food for this nation. We still have organic type of farming at our disposal. Organic farming is slowly taking its rightful place in the farming circles.

As already mentioned under the dangers of genetically modified foods only time will tell if modified biotechnology will harm humans.

People are just eating food not knowing how it is actually grown.

However out of love and concern for human kind, God can reverse such development we are his creation after all.




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