Genetics is the basis of life. Every living being around, carries a plethora of genes, some are expressed while others may remain unexpressed all through the life of the organism. The nature has bestowed mankind with the best genetics on the planet. Utilizing the brain potentials man has revealed the secrets hidden in the nature and has taken charge of altering the hereditary matter of plants and animals and also of the food items that he consumes. Are these food items really helping human beings or they are providing deleterious effects to mankind. This question became the controversy in southern Africa drought in 2002/03 (Pelletier, 2006).
At present much emphasis is being laid on the health and healthy food which encompass all the natural products which have not undergone any alteration and have preserved their natural and gifted genes i.e. they are directly from the natural sources. Various ailments are due to the food consumption only as content in the food can trigger any cell or enzyme as soon as it is consumed. Taking this into consideration the US FDA has been established. This body has set different rules and regulations for the altered food and beverages.
“Genetically Engineered” food is grown, manufactured, created, developed or changed by utilizing the techniques that brings changes in molecular or cell biology of an organism. This technique cannot be exploited in nature or under natural conditions. These techniques are mostly based on recombinant DNA technology, cell fusion, micro- and macroencapsulation, gene deletion or duplication, introduction of any gene from other organism through microinjection or by the process of transgenesis where the desired foreign gene is inserted in the early sates of development and also the techniques based on altering the position of the genes. The process does not include propagation, conjugation, fermentation, hybridization, in vitro fertilization and tissue culture method (Grubesic, 2005).
GE food is changing the nature and it is challenging the nature. Laws have been put forward for the GE and this is cited as “genetically Engineered Food Labeling Act”. The purpose of this Act enforces the primary right of the people and it is for the awareness of the people if anyone is buying or selling such product (Grubesic, 2005).
These products could be:
Agriculture product: Farming or horticulture, viticulture or vegetable items for consumption. This also includes food additives (incorporation of this item in food influence the characteristic of food).
Food additives may be used for manufacturing, stuffing or in packaging, dispensation, preparing, treating, and packaging, food additives may also be used when long distance transporting is to be done or when the food item is to be kept for long duration. Now-a-days radiations are given to ensure the safety of food from chemicals.
The food is labeled with the name of the company or firm or by any legal or commercial entity; it also displays the customary conditions of display for bulk, wholesale or retail sale. The GE food must be labeled with “Genetically Engineered” tag.
The GE can be performed for the GE enzymes, or the GE processing agents. It is significant that customer must know if the enzymes are present in the food item or what is the nature of GE agent.
Genetic Engineered food items are prevalent in almost every field:
Agriculture: GE or hybrid seeds, fruits, vegetables, plants are gaining popularity in market. It requires awareness and thorough knowledge for consumption.
Dairy or meat products: these are the products derived from livestock. It not only encompasses transgenic animals but also incorporate the feed of the livestock. The gene for the milk production of the cattle is altered to get the enhanced milk production. The process does not end here the milk obtained is processed and treated with GE agents especially the enzymes to get a range of milk products.
It is evident that GE food is modified in composition or nutritional values. In order to prepare such product diverse processes are performed. These processes may alter the food value or the quality of the food because these products are made from the trans-species that encompass gene transfers from some different species or genera. It is mandatory to provide written information to the consumers e.g. “This squash contains viral genetic information designed to make it resistant to viral infection.” or “This tomato contains genetic material derived from the flounder, a fish of the family Bothidiae.” (Grubesic, 20005).
Various research and studies have been performed where the disadvantages of GE food items are highlighted. It is apparent that in this fast moving life and also in the rat race man has taken shelter under the GE food and all the artificial flavored items. Mankind escapes all the natural food items available just to cut the time in home processing.
This practice is gradually creeping in our own heredity and genetic makeup. The agents used to alter the food items are in turn harmful to mankind and has started bringing disaster. One of the leading causes of the cancer is consumption of those food items that are not natural but are artificially made or its genes are altered or processed so as to ensure that only the desired genes are expressed. Here the expression of genes in the cell is not under the natural control but they are influenced by the inducing factors. The process can give fast momentary results but it cannot substitute the natural articles (Campbell).
The haste to produce additional quantity, to capture the market or for survival in the market various organizations are adopting fallacies. New companies are coming up and they put political influence on and FDA, exploiting and violating the permissive regulatory approach, infringing the research and scientific findings.
It is evident that violating Food Law is a severe offence. The government and the authorities must take the honest and worthy approach to confirm the GE item consumption and safety is equivalent to conventional food items (Pelletier, 2006).
It becomes the responsibility of people and consumers to be aware of such products to safeguard our heath and to avoid the misleading facts unless thoroughly examined and checked and verified scientifically; else, say no to genetically engineered food products.