The Genetic Modification Ordeal

Genetic modification can be a tricky issue. Even at present, most researchers may not have the means to predict or foresee the outcome of a genetically modified food. Sure, scientists may be able to manipulate or restructure genes to come out with a desired function. But the science behind it still remains at its early stages. It is quite difficult just how changing a gene structure may affect the overall result. And it is usually the surprising ones that prove to be quite disturbing.

The fact that genetic modification is a science yet in its infancy, it can be troubling to note that there are people who are quick to take advantage of the opportunities it may provide. With the promise of profits and higher revenues, biotechnology firms can become quite greedy in trying to create revenue for their GM creations. It can reach up to a level that may already disregard consumer safety. It does not always help that the government may only be too keen on speed up the progress of genetic modification to benefit the public. Combine the two and it can be quite a dangerous situation.

The ordeal that genetic modification has to go through may lie on how it has advanced so far. Since the late 1990’s, the public may have been totally unaware that GM foods may have already entered into the market. One of them is the Flavr Savr tomato that received FDA approval in 1994. This GM tomato was developed by Calgene and was genetically modified to have a longer shelf life, making them stay in the shopping aisles longer. That would mean better profits for farmers and the interest in Flavr Savr would mean profits for Calgene, taking ten years to develop the first GM tomato. But this was not to be.

Calgene’s Flavr Savr got into several controversies that eventually led to its demise. One of them is the result of some studies that showed lab rats developing stomach lesions after eating GM tomatoes. Although scientists over the years have questioned the methodology of some of these studies, it nevertheless became one of the reasons why Flavr Savr never took off. Becoming known as “Frankenstein Foods” did not help either.

So far, the issues regarding GM foods and plants still border around how safe they are. Unless scientists can prove and ensure the safety of GM foods through credible lab tests, doubts and concerns about it will still remain. The ordeal for Genetic modification to be publicly accepted will remain a long journey ahead.

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