Essay: Genetic engineering

Genetic engineering is a technique involving the manipulation of an organism’s genome through the insertion of a gene, removal of a nucleotide sequence or alteration of a gene’s ability to express itself. The resultant being, a genetically modified organism is a major source of nutrition in the contemporary world. The year 1994 marked the dawn of a new era in both genetics and the food processing industry when the Flavr Savr tomato which lacked the protein for ripening hit shelves (McLean). This method of food production has over the past few decades become so widely practiced that a significant amount of nutriment is obtained through the consumption of genetically manufactured food items. In fact, in the United States of America 75% of the total processed food consists of at least a single ingredient prepared through such means (McLean). Despite the extensive intake of genetically modified food in our diet, they are detrimental to human health and the environment.
It is argued that there is a dire need for the rapid large scale manufacture of genetically modified food to cater the requirements of the population. With the current population increasing at a rate of 2% per annum, it is essential to have a 70% rise in the food production by 2050 as concluded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Alford). Out of the all the options available to solve this predicament, people most often resort to the application of genetics addressing it as the sole panacea of the dilemma because it is convenient, relatively low in expense and efficient. Additionally, transgenic organisms readily eliminate deficiency disorders from individuals that would otherwise persist in the world. For example, using recombinant DNA technology, a gene from both Narcissus pseudonarcissus (daffodil) and Erwinia uredovora(soil bacterium) is extracted and inserted into the white rice resulting in golden rice which has the potential to cure 250 million children who are suffering from vitamin A deficiency because eating one bowl of golden rice satisfies 60% of a child’s dietary demand for vitamin A (Alford). However, concealed behind this veil of deception is a disaster. There is no truth the claim that natural products and genetically modified food are equivalent in terms of safety. In October 1996, Jeremy Rifkin, an American economic, social theorist and activist voiced his opinion against this false statement by announcing a boycott (Marshall 55). ‘Despite what the media and so-called ‘experts’ proclaim, there are no peer-reviewed scientific papers establishing the safety of GMO crops. According to Dr. Huber, so far, no one has been able to establish that there’s a safety factor to either the genetically engineered proteins (i.e. the foreign proteins produced by the genetically modified plant) or the chemicals we’re consuming in ever larger quantities as a result of the genetic engineering process.’ Doctor Don Huber, an internationally reputable expert on genetically modified organisms has confirmed that the safety of genetically modified food is nothing more than a myth. He stated, ‘A group of us met with top USDA administrators. They assured us that they based all their decisions on peer-reviewed science. When we asked them if they would share any of that, they were unable to produce any.’ (Meracola).

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