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Genetically modified food

By Naseem Alzu’bi

It is a technique that involves transferring new DNA that has the desired characteristics into plant cells then cultivating the cells in a tissue culture until they grow into plants; and thus, the seeds produced by these plants will inherit the new DNA and the desired characteristics.

 The genetic composition and environmental interaction of the organism determine all the characteristics of living organisms. The genetic composition means the genome, which in animals and plants consists of DNA, as the genome contains genes that carry instructions related to making the proteins responsible for giving plants their characteristics and properties.

Genetic modification is done by adding a specific stretch of DNA to the genome to give it certain properties, such as making the plant resistant to diseases and changing the way plants grow. This is done through a series of laboratory techniques, such as cloning genes, linking DNA parts together, and inserting the genes into cells.

_When did genetically modified foods appear?

 The development of genetic engineering over the past few decades has allowed the modification of the genes of some foods, that is, the manipulation of their DNA structure, to give them new nutritional properties without this, meaning increasing their health value.

 Genetically modified foods were marketed for the first time in the United States of America in 1994 by introducing a type of tomato that had been subjected to genetic modification after years of research aimed at improving agriculture and its methods by using plants that are resistant to insects, unaffected by chemical pesticides, and capable of growing well in  Under difficult farming conditions.  Genetically modified crops extend over an area exceeding 50 million hectares and are distributed over several countries.

_Steps to manufacture genetically modified foods: There are general steps for genetically modifying plants and manufacturing genetically modified foods, which are summarized in the following points 

  • Determine the traits to be added to the agricultural crop, such as increasing insect resistance in corn crops.
  • Finding the required gene in a plant or animal, as the insect control gene has been found in some bacteria that grow in the soil.
  • Copying the gene that was found to do the trick.
  • Inserting the copied gene into the plant’s genetic material.
  • Cultivating the genetically modified plant, conducting safety checks, and ensuring the presence of the added trait.

_Objectives of genetic modification :

  • Treating diseases: Scientists have developed gene therapies that involve genetic or genetic modification in order to prevent diseases in humans and help treat them. Gene therapy is able to help treat diseases caused by genetic mutations, most notably diabetes and cancer. Gene therapies target both autosomal and sexual mutations. Evaluating the safety of gene therapies and improving gene editing techniques are essential steps to ensure that this technology is ready for use in treating patients.
  • Research: Genetic modification is used in basic scientific research to enhance understanding of cells and tissues.  Humanity, such as stem cell and cancer cell research, to understand diseases and the way living organisms reproduce.
  • Biotechnology Genetic modification has been used in many fields, such as agriculture, by developing genetically modified plants to help increase the productivity of plants and their resistance to diseases and drought. It has also been used to modify animals by improving their characteristics and increasing their productivity with eggs, meat, and milk.
  • Food and biofuel production. Genetic modification has been used in many critical technological fields for various goals, and among these goals are the following:
  1. Producing foods free of factors that cause allergies to some, such as lactose and gluten, as lactose is extracted from the milk through genetic modification.  Gluten has also been extracted from wheat.
  2. Creating caffeine-free coffee by stopping the genes responsible for caffeine production through genetic modification techniques.  Biofuel production is caused by algae that produce fats used to make biofuel.
  3. Producing the first naturally spicy tomatoes. It turns out that tomatoes carry many genes that produce capsaicin, which makes chilli peppers hot. With some genetic modifications, researchers were able to give tomatoes the missing genes to make them hot.
  4. Producing genetically modified salmon that grows twice as fast as regular salmon so that it is more resistant to diseases and increases its productivity.  Enhance the Omega-3 content in fish to make it healthier and more nutritious.

_How to differentiate genetically modified food?

 In order for a person to confirm that it is a genetically modified food, he will have to read the information on it because when carrying out these processes, the information must be reflected on an informational label. However, it has been emphasized that those responsible for these processes generally do not add this information due to the points related to the state’s laws.

 People are free to consume the food they want. Still, laws stipulate that this must be reported because there are advantages and disadvantages to GM foods, and people have the right to know this information in advance so that they can consciously benefit from it.  It’s not always fulfilled, so it can be complicated to see that it is this type of food.

_The importance of genetically modified foods

 It is very important to know the advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified foods because all areas currently offer rapid progress since there are tools that allow this process to be more straightforward, among which the development of food products directly related to health must be consumed consciously. 

There are many needs that people have regarding food and thanks to all the developments offered, you will have the possibility of having a large number of options to choose from for a type of product, since there is currently a lot of variety, so they must know the information about each of them to choose the most suitable, leaving each  Something for a person to choose.

 For this reason, being among the options of genetically modified foods, it is essential that people are aware of them, and that if they buy them, it is because it is what they really want, and that they know the advantages and disadvantages that these offer, in a way that does not generate a problem, which could happen if  You really had no idea what the specific product was as well as being unaware of it.

_Benefits of genetically modified foods:

There are many benefits to genetically modified foods, such as:

  1. Solving the problem of food shortages: Planet Earth is suffering from an increase in population coupled with a scarcity of resources.  Therefore, today, more than 16 million farmers worldwide use genetic modification techniques to increase agricultural production and develop new varieties, which helps solve the problem of food shortages.
  2. Medical benefits: Through genetic modification, it is possible to produce plants capable of producing proteins, vaccines, and other medical products.
  3. Producing insect-resistant crops: Using genetic modification, it is possible to produce crops that are more resistant to insects and better adapted to heat, pesticides, and harsh climatic conditions.
  4. Crops with nutritional value: Genetic modification offers the possibility of adding essential nutrients to crops, such as protein, calcium, or folic acid.

_Harmful effects of genetically modified foods: Despite the benefits that genetically modified foods can provide, they carry risks that cannot be avoided, such as: 

  1. Allergies: Genetically modifying foods involves changing their natural components, which may increase the rate of allergies in humans when eating these foods.
  2. Antibiotic resistance: Genes found in genetically modified foods can be transferred to bacteria in the intestines and reduce the effectiveness of antimicrobial treatment.  It increases antibiotic resistance.
  3. Cancer: Some studies have indicated the possibility of a link between eating genetically modified foods and developing cancer.
  4. Poisoning: Introducing some genes into genetically modified foods may convert previously non-toxic elements into toxic elements.
  5. Poor nutrition: Genetically modifying foods leads to increased levels of anti-nutrient compounds and decreased levels of beneficial nutrients, resulting in malnutrition.
  6.  Environmental damage: Today, significant damage is being caused to the environment as a result of thousands of genetically modified plants, as well as to animals and birds present in the environment which feed on these plants.

_Strategies to reduce dependence on genetically modified foods:


  • Eating organic foods: Organic foods do not contain genetic modifications or pesticides, so they are considered a useful means of avoiding genetically modified foods.
  •  Fresh fruits and vegetables: We should make sure to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.  Because the majority of fresh materials are not genetically modified, stay away from imported vegetables and fruits.
  • Focus on fibre: It is helpful to focus on fibre. The majority of grains, seeds, nuts, and beans do not contain genetically modified materials.
  • Reading labels: You should read labels on products before purchasing them;  This is to ensure that it does not include genetic modifications.
  •  Home cultivation: One of the best ways to avoid genetically modified products is to rely on home cultivation of vegetables and fruits if there is a possibility for that.

_The controversy surrounding the issue of genetically modified foods has not yet been resolved.  It is still between a supportive section, a hostile and critical section, and a conservative section.  Some of them see it as the solution to avoid human hunger, and some of them see it as the first nail in the coffin of humanity and the emergence of generations that do not enjoy good health. Despite current recommendations that genetically modified foods are safe foods in general, insufficient tests and examinations confirm this.  Studies and research are still ongoing in this field to demonstrate its impact on human health and the environment in the long term.


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