Many people today are often amazed by the amount of food and nutrients created a year for human consumption. The constant prominence of genetically modified (GMO) foods is not only intimidating, but confusing. The dictionary definition of GMO is genetically modified organism: an organism or microorganism whose genetic material has been altered by means of genetic engineering.
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Simply explained, foods are plants and animals that have had their genetic makeup artificially altered by scientists to make them grow faster, taste better, last longer and to provide more nutrients. An example of this is the poultry industry, in which farmers use GMO seed to feed their chickens. This creates chickens who grow twice as large, in half the time, as natural, free range chickens. Though this does not create any known health risks within the chicken meat for those who consume it, it creates weak bone structure and increases the death rates of the chickens themselves. Referring to figure 1, one can easily see the change in chickens created by GMOs within the past 50 years. Though this is an inhumane way to raise chickens and create food, it provides a copious amount of food. In this essay, the history and research on GMOs will be explained as will the pros and cons of the new GMO world.
There is a process called artificial selection, defined by Charles Darwin as the process of choosing the organisms with the most desired traits and reproducing them to create an ideal offspring. Repeated use of this practice over many generations can result in dramatic genetic changes to a species. Although this is not what GMO is today, it is the mother proceder that influenced todays form of GMO. To explain artificial selection one would look to dogs. When ancient hominids were hunting and gathering to survive, they used wild wolves as scavengers. In exchange for food, the wolves would aid the hominids in acquiring food. Throughout the centuries, hominids would breed the wolves into the most desirable animal (domesticated, playful, cuddly, ect.) they could, leading to new species such as corgis, and golden retrievers. In reference to figure 2, the jawline of the animal becomes smaller and softer. Artificial selection is also used with crops. For example, Corn began as a wild grass called teosinte that had very few kernels. However, homo sapiens used artificial selection to create teosinte with more and more kernels, resulting in what we now know as corn, or maize.
Current Gmo is far more advanced than simply breeding corn.
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