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Are Genetically Modified Foods Safe?
The study of the field of genetics has led to an understanding of how organisms behave at the molecular level. Our understanding is such that we no longer have to rely on selective breeding programs to create new varieties of grains or vegetables. With the use of selective gene transfer techniques we can introduce new properties to an existing plant species. These genes can make a plant more nutritious that it was or can allow it to grow in harsh environments where it could not easily be grown before. The ability to modify the properties of plants that humans eat has led to fears that these genetically modified plants are somehow harmful. Many are pushing to either outright ban or force the labeling of such foods. There are issues of unknown allergic reaction to plants that contain allergens not found in them before the insertion of a new gene. Others argue that the inserted traits could be passed onto other plants in neighboring fields and there could be gene transfer from one species of plant to another. Others feel that this manipulation of nature is not, well, natural and could have other unknown adverse consequences. While there are some legitimate concerns that must be addressed, much of the controversy comes from a basic lack of understanding of the scientific processes used to help ensure the safety of the final product. Biotech companies have not done a good enough job of reassuring the public that genetically modified foods are as safe as they claim.
Q: What are the concerns about dangers of genetically modified foods? Where do you stand on the issue? Do you feel comfortable eating foods that have been genetically altered?