Killer Strawberries - A Tale of GM Foods




Genetically modified foods have been making the headlines for a while. Foods are modified by genetic engineering which is when a gene is taken from an organism with the desired traits, and is transplanted into another organism. And the question is; Is genetically modifying the food we beneficial to us or harmful. Just like most scientific discoveries there are many advantages and disadvantages. Almost everybody in the community benefits from the products of GM foods, from the farmers who can produce more of a better crop, to the consumer who pays less for better food. However the problem is that there are few laws to control the process and distribution of GM foods.


gm straw.jpg

One genetically modified food that caught my interest was the GM strawberry. Fact: Strawberries freeze easily. Early frost can ruin strawberry crops. Fact: Peanuts have a gene that prevents them from freezing. Can you see what the scientists were thinking? By isolating the gene in peanuts that prevents them from freezing and inserting that gene into strawberries, scientists have created a strawberry that won't freeze. They have created a stronger crop that will yield more.

022_t620.jpgAs many as 1.6% of Americans are allergic to peanuts, some are severely allergic; a bad allergy attack could cause death. The gene that prevents freezing is also related to the allergy attacks of those who are allergic to peanuts. There is no law about GM foods having to be labeled as having been modified.  So now people who are allergic to peanuts would also be allergic to strawberries. It would be possible for them to buy strawberries and have the peanut allergic reaction, possibly resulting in death. The problem with GM foods is people don't know when they're buying these genetically engineered foods.


YQdLyuuIp.jpg           Scientists are working on other ways to genetically modify the strawberry and tomato to prevent freezing without using the peanut gene. They have found a gene in fish that works similarly.



This is scary! I am not allergic to peanuts, but I think it's irresponsible and not ethical to use something that is so harmful to many people and then not alert people that it has been used! I understand using the peanut gene to prevent freezing, but I don't get how it's allowed for them to not label it as such. It honestly just seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen...
In theory it seems like a GREAT idea. But I think when you factor in the third variable about it being harmful to so many people it needs to be modified or stopped all together.

It's also interesting how different countries and cultures respond to GMOs. Most countries do require labeling of GM foods , so consumers know that they're buying something that has been somehow manipulated. Two countries that have really high consumer "opposition" to GMOs are France and Germany, where >80% of survey respondents objected to GMOs.'s important for scientists to take cultural attitudes into consideration in relation to their work as well. Someone might be able to develop a GMO that could feed the world, but if large parts of the world object to eating something that has been genetically modified, then there's still going to be a problem!

I agree...How can something so harmful to so many people not be made clear. I believe in all genetically modified foods, the gene that was introduced into the product at hand should be made extremely clear as far as to put it right on the front of the package and not with the nutrition facts. People can be killed from this and the FDA has to make stricter rules to protect people. GM foods are a great idea on paper but when it comes to actually doing it, safer measures have to be taken.

I am kind of curious, though. While I do believe that there are many ways the idea of GMOs could end badly or be harmful, there are a lot of really cool ideas that could be very beneficial to the world. The most interesting one I saw was on called phytoremediation. The idea is that you can genetically engineer plants and trees (apparently they have with the poplar tree) to clean up heavy metal pollution in the soil and leave it uncontaminated. I do think there are a lot of ways this could go wrong, but there are a lot of positive possibilities, too!

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