You have probably heard the controversy and debate surrounding foods like genetically modified meat. The acronym, GMO, which stands for genetically modified organism, is often used when referencing these type of foods. Medical and nutrition experts have yet to agree on the benefits and consequences of the technological marvel that is genetically modified food.
Differing Viewpoints on GMO Meat
What was once considered more science fiction than fact is now a reality. Science and technology have teamed up to create a world in which vegetables and fruits, grains, dairy, and meat can be genetically modified to address issues of animal health, resistance to disease, and to promote health in the end consumer.
To modify the genetics of animals, it requires scientists splicing together different DNA segments, which fundamentally changes the resulting animal. Currently, genetically-altered meats are not being sold on the United States market. However, many believe that can and will change in the future. Crops with genetic modifications have entered the U.S. market.
What the Experts Say
Proponents of these genetically modified products say that animals and fish can be raised more efficiently and with resistance to disease. Crops, they say, can be grown with fewer pesticides, less chemicals, and with resistance not only to disease, but also to heat and drought. Some say these measures can help to address the very serious issue of world hunger, as well as environmental issues as a result of more efficient growing and raising practices.
However, not everyone supports the idea of genetically modified meat and other food products. Some say there is a serious health threat with consuming these types of foods related to allergens and unknown consequences that could arise as a result of consuming genetically altered products. Additionally, others point to environmental impacts that could result from unintended transfers of these products into the "wild." One of the biggest arguments against this type of technology, though, is a question of ethics.
Ethics Issues and Beyond
When the issue of genetically altering animals and crops became a reality in the 1990s, many people were appalled by the idea for a number of reasons. Here are just a few of them.
- Some suggest that tampering with animal genes results in unnecessary stress on the resulting animals, as well as any offspring that might come as a result. Animal cruelty advocates, too, question the long-term effects of genetic alterations on animal species.
- Others consider the entire concept a violation of natural order and of animal rights.
- Many people point to the fact that this is not only an issue of animal rights, but it may also tips the scales toward an even less balanced dependence from developing countries on technologically-superior ones. This takes the issue away from just animal rights and steps back to look at it from an issue of relevance to basic human rights.
- Still others cite the fact that genetic modification of certain animal species can have an untold impact on countless others in the natural world. The actual impact of such modifications is difficult to measure.
More Info About Genetically Modified Foods
For more information on these types of modified meats, visit the website for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which details laws, information, and changes in the science and technologies behind genetically altered foods.