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Genetically Modified Food

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Genetically modified foods are those animals and plants, whose genetic composition has been altered in such a way, that it does not occur naturally. Genetic modification allows transfer of genes from one organism to the other of related or unrelated species. The introduction of genetically modified food aims at obtaining advantages such as resistance to weather, lower prices or an addition of their nutritional value. Plants are made more resistant to diseases, herbicides, and hence, provide greater productions due to the reduced losses. Growing and eating genetically modified foods simply is not sustainable for us or for life on this planet (Melissa 2012). There is a lot of genetically modified food in the Tucson, which has affected people’s health in one way or the other.

Hybridization, or interbreeding, is the traditional method used to improve the quality and quantity of crops but even tried-and-true breeding techniques have their limits (Arizona Daily Star, 2013). This means that genetic modification has been practiced all through. Genetic modification is preferred to processes like hybridization, because only the desired characteristics are obtained from genetic modification, while desired traits from parent plants can be obtained from hybridization. Only the desired traits are obtained from genetic modification and the entire process is quicker, as compared to hybridization. Altering the genetic composition of plants gives them advantage over the natural plants, for example, by making them disease resistant. Genetic modification can produce very good food. For example, cooking oil containing less fat and hence, reducing obesity cases. Breeding "designer" crops will shrink the botanical gene pool, ultimately leaving plants more vulnerable to disease (Annual Review, 2009). Breeding could alter the occurrence of allergens and toxins in plants too. The biggest problem with genetically modified food is that it is very difficult to tell whether the food we eat is natural or genetically modified. Producers of this food do not put labels on them indicating that they are genetically modified and hence, consumers just take them unknowingly. The best way to avoid taking genetically modified food is to purchase organically certified food. Most of the genetically modified food in the Tucson markets has been modified without labels.

Genetically modified food has now been in the market for ten years and their long-term effect has not been known. According to a study of people in the Philippines, it is reported that their bodies developed antibodies to BT toxin. The consumers also developed a resistance to antibiotics such as Ampicillin. Genetically modified food alters the human physiology. Consumers in the Tucson demand to have organic food in the market and hence, indicating a large concern on the effects of genetically modified food. Several products have been stopped due to testing, such as a genetically modified pea that was found to cause harm to mice and Brazil nuts was stopped due to allergy concerns and a genetic combination of soybeans (Annual Review, 2009). However, genetic modifications aim at improving the quality of food, it is possible to have changes in the nutritional value and allergies in the same food. The number of food allergies has risen since the introduction of genetically modified food and the majority of them cause harm to children.

Tucson has highly been affected by the issue of genetically modifies food. People have now formed groups aimed at growing organic food by the name Community Gardens of Tucson (CGT). CGT is an all-volunteer nonprofit group devoted to promoting health, knowledge, joyfulness and a sense of community by helping Tucson residents establish and maintain neighborhood vegetable and flower gardens (Parke, 2013). The benefits of CGT include - growing organic food, bringing neighborhoods together in the project, giving families with no land a place to grow their own organic food, obtaining fresh and healthy vegetables, enhancing neighborhood through sharing of harvests, teaching people more about plants for leisure and exercise, and lastly, it helps turn free land into productive land. CGT encourages consumption of organic food by discouraging consumption of genetically modified food. Researchers all over Tucson are encouraging people to buy organic food, which is produced locally to avoid consumption of genetically modified food. The FDA ensures that most food products in the market are labeled to avoid confusion, though the campaign has not been successful and consumers are still taking genetically modified food unknowingly.

GMO companies prohibit tests on whether the genetically modified food has harmful side effects and therefore, it is still not known what might come of them. The companies require people to sign agreements after buying their products prohibiting them from carrying out any scientific research of their products. The biggest issue in the fight against the consumption of modified food is still on, and sometimes seems to be a losing battle, because some countries still allow the growth of this food. Tucson has not been able to eliminate genetically modified food from the market because it still cannot rely on the locally produced food and hence, must import some. In the future, genetic modification could be aimed at altering the nutrient content of food, reducing its allergenic potential, or improving the efficiency of food production systems (Melissa 2012).

Campaigns are all over Tucson are trying to sensitize people on the importance of purchasing organic and locally produced food. Tucson focuses on sustainable food production. This is production or organic food, which has little or no harm to either the consumers or the natural environment. Tucson’s Food Day is on October 24, when people celebrate sustainable and healthy food production.  Monsanto, a genetically modified food company has filed considerably many lawsuits involving a handful of farmers for unlawfully using genetically modified  patented seeds, leading to a suit by food safety and environmental organizations, agricultural research, representing hundreds of thousands of members including several thousand certified organic, biodynamic, or otherwise non transgenic family farmers(Surface Earth, 2013).

Tucson has actively been pursuing genetically modified food labeling and wishing to be GMO free. Protecting our health and the planet’s health, overcoming both the increase in numerous chronic illnesses since the mid-1990s and how corporations are controlling more and more of our seed and food these days, are key the topics that will be addressed in a coordinated campaign of GMO education events by the GMO Free Project of Tucson (Melissa, 2012). Native Seeds/SEARCH, Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculture, the Envision Tucson Sustainable Festival, and Tucson Food Day, during the month of October, which is Non-GMO Month (Melissa, 2012).

Customers do not benefit from genetically modified food in any way. The food is sold at the same price, has the same nutritional value and the same taste with organic food. GMOs only benefit the chemical companies that make the patented genetically modified seeds and their corresponding chemicals, usually herbicides such as Round Up, which the genetically modified foods are tolerant to (Melissa, 2012). The largest profit from genetically modified food goes to companies producing herbicide. The use of herbicides has drastically risen since the introduction of genetically modified food.

The GMO Free Project of Tucson is a nonprofit, all-volunteer group dedicated to informing the public and restaurants about genetically modified foods, their risks and how to avoid them (Melissa, 2012). Restaurants in Tucson serve organic food and act as Non- GMO pioneers in this fight. Eating genetically modified foods also may promote inflammation and increased intestinal permeability, conditions linked to numerous health problems that are on the rise in humans (Clarke, 2013). Tucson is still hopeful of reducing the amount of genetically modified food in its markets through the numerous campaigns done every year. It ensures that all the imported food is organic and encouraging consumers to be careful when purchasing food. Farmers are also encouraged to grow organic food and sell it locally.

In conclusion, genetically modified food is any food with an altered genetic composition. The food does not grow naturally because foreign genes are introduced into it and hence, giving it new traits. Most of our markets are full of genetically modified food. Consumers take it without any consent because most of it is not labeled and it is not easy to distinguish between organic and genetically modified food. Tucson is one of the states where genetically modified food is highly discouraged. People are advised to check the labels on food before purchasing to ensure that it is organic.

Companies manufacturing genetically modified food do not allow any research on their products. The long-term effects of genetically modified food have not been established on human beings apart from allergies. It is feared that the genes will continue to develop in human beings and that their genetic composition might also change with time. Genetically modified food is mostly grown on the US and hence, posing a great challenge to countries are fighting against them. Genetically modified food does not profit the consumers but the producers and companies producing herbicides. The best way to avoid taking genetically modified food is to purchase organically certified food. Everybody should take part in the fight against modified food by purchasing organic food. Tucson has reduced the amount of genetically modified food in its markets by a large percentage.

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