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    Genetically Modified Foods & Global Food Trade

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    Genetically modified foods have been available in this country for more than a decade. Most of you are probably eating GMOs without even knowing it. More than 75% of the products on the super market shelves contain a component that is a GMO.

    1. Would the U.S. survive without global food trade?
    2. What are the pros and cons of GMOs?

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    Solution Preview

    Genetic modification is one of the major developments of modern times. Throughout history, we have sought new ways to produce more and better foods. Our ancestors learned by trial and error how to breed animals to develop improved varieties, which has been developed to the advanced benefit, a.k.a genetic modification. Of course, the alternative approach is organic farming. Although this approach is more popular with some consumers, it is generally more expensive mainly due to lower yields and higher labor cost. Also, organic agriculture is a slow and unpredictable process, and requires intensive labor. On the other hand, desired GM organisms can be bred in one generation. However, we choose organic foods for different reasons, environmental benefits, lower pesticide products and better taste are some of these reasons. We also perceive them as a healthier choice. Nevertheless, current research has yet to show any major differences, regarding food safety and nutrition. Genetic modification is the main tool for solving the challenge of famine across the globe, however the debate surrounding GM technology continues unabated.

    Genetically modified foods (GMF) are foods which have had their DNA altered to enhance desired traits or improve nutritional content by means of genetic engineering. About two thirds of food on the supermarket shelf are either genetically modified or contain genetically modified ingredients, creating various moral issues and dilemmas.

    Modern techniques of producing GMF include taking copies from the cells of a plant or animal and inserting them into the cells of another plant or animal to create a desired characteristic. Scientists commonly simplify it to "one gene controls one character trait, and transferring the gene results in the transfer of the corresponding trait to the genetically modified organism, which can then pass it on indefinitely to future generations". The first step involves identifying the gene(s) responsible for this characteristic, called the "Gene of Interest". It is then isolated from the donor organism and appropriate gene switches are added. The gene of interest is then inserted into cells of the host organism which is then grown in the lab, usually with an incubator, so only the plant cells containing the gene of interest will grow. Then conventional breeding is used for future generations. Plants are then transferred to a greenhouse and eventually into fields.

    Despite these benefits and improvements in offer, the public and environmentalists do raise the concern that GM crops will encourage monocultures, of only one ...

    Solution Summary

    GMO's and the global food trade are discussed.