PART 2. 185
What are the concerns over GE food?
Many concerns have been raised over the inadequate testing of the effects of genetic engineering on humans and the environment. Genetic engineering is still an emerging field, and scientists do not know exactly what can result from putting the DNA of one species into another. The introduction of foreign DNA into an organism could trigger other DNA in the plant or animal to mutate and change. In addition, researchers do not know if there are any long-term or unintended side effects from eating GE foods (sometimes called “Frankenfoods”). F
Critics of genetic engineering believe that GE foods must be proven safe before they are sold to the public. Specific concerns over genetic engineering include:
Allergic reactions. There are two concerns regarding allergic reactions. The first is with known allergens. For example, if genes from nuts are inserted into other foods, it could cause severe reactions in people with nut allergies. Therefore, there is concern that people with known allergies will not be aware that the genetically engineered food they are eating contains substances to which they are allergic. The second concern is that new allergies might be created, since new combinations of genes and traits have the potential to cause allergic reactions that have never existed before.
Gene mutation. Scientists don’t know if the forced insertion of one gene into another gene could destabilize the entire organism, and encourage mutations and abnormalities.
Antibiotic resistance. Almost all GE foods contain antibiotic resistance marker genes that help producers know whether the new genetic material was transferred to the host plant or animal. GE food could make disease-causing bacteria even more resistant to antibiotics, which could increase the spread of disease throughout the world.
Loss of nutrition. Genetic engineering may change the nutritionalvalue of food. F
Environmental Damage. Insects, birds and wind might carry genetically altered pollen to other fields and forests, pollinating plants and randomly creating new species that would carry on the genetic modifications.
Gene pollution cannot be cleaned up. Once released into the environment, genetically engineered organisms cannot be cleaned up or recalled. By virtue of their "superior" genes, they will inevitably run amok, overpowering wild species and leading to genetic "bio-invasion".What will happen to wild fish and marine species, for example, when scientists release into the environment carp, salmon, and trout that are twice as large, and eat twice as much food, as their wild counterparts?
Socioeconomic hazards.The patenting of genetically engineered foods and widespread biotech food production threatens to eliminate farming as it has been practiced for 12,000 years. GE patents such as the Terminator Technology will render seeds infertile and force hundreds of millions of farmers who now save and share their seeds to purchase evermore expensive GE seeds and chemical inputs from a handful of global biotech/seed monopolies. If the trend is not stopped, the patenting of transgenic plants and food-producing animals will soon lead to universal "bioserfdom" in which farmers will lease their plants and animals from biotech conglomerates such as Monsanto and pay royalties on seeds and offspring. Family and indigenous farmers will be driven off the land and consumers' food choices will be dictated by a cartel of transnational corporations.
Ethical Hazards.The genetic engineering and patenting of animals reduces living beings to the status of manufactured products and will result in much suffering caused by experimentation on live animals. In addition to the cruelty inherent in such experimentation (the "mistakes" are born with painful deformities, crippled, blind, and so on), these "manufactured" creatures have no greater value to their "creators" than mechanical inventions. A purely reductionist science, biotechnology reduces all life to bits of information (genetic code) that can be arranged and rearranged at whim. Currently, hundreds of genetically engineered "freak" animals are awaiting patent approval from the federal government. One can only wonder, after the wholesale gene-altering and patenting of animals, will GE "designer babies" be next?
Did You Know?
• Five countries make up 90% of the world’s GE acreage: US (69%), Brazil (30%), Argentina (24%), India (11%), Canada (10%).
• More than 93% of soybeans grown in the US in 2011 were bioengineered. F
• Herbicide tolerant GE crops have created weed resistance, causing pesticide use to increase by 70 million pounds between 1996 and 2003.
• According to the biotechnology industry almost 100% of US food and fiber will be genetically engineered within 5-10 years.
The future of GM organisms remains unknown, but it is perfectly clear that for the first time in history, transnational biotechnology corporations are becoming the architects and "owners" of life.
6. Provide definitions for the underlined words and word-combinations in Part 2.
7. Answer the following questions.
7) What are the issues of concern for human health?
8) What are the issues of concern for the environment?
8. Translate into English.
1) Большинство учёных уверены, что генетически модифицированные организмы (ГМО) ― благо, позволяющее побороть на Земле голод и получить высокоэффективные лекарства и вакцины от неизлечимых болезней. 2) Другие ученые считают ГМО бомбой замедленного действия, которая может разорваться в любой момент и привести к самым неожиданным эффектам. 3) И традиционная селекция, и генная инженерия создают иные комбинации генов, приводящие к новым свойствам. 4) Путём манипулирования молекулами ДНК современный человек может произвольно и направленно изменять наследственность окружающего его живого мира ― бактерий, растений, животных и человека. 5) В новом веке человечество победит болезни. Генная инженерия, клонирование ― это большой шаг. Больные органы просто будут заменять.
9. Search the Internet for additional information and discuss the following questions.
1) Are GM crops grown in Russia?
2) Do you believe that companies should have the legal right to patent crop varieties and other forms of life? How could this benefit or harm you?
10. Work in pairs. List as many projected advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified crops and foods as you can think of. Compare your list with other pairs and with the ideas on p. 48. Which two advantages and which two disadvantages do you think are the most important? Why?