Biodiversity and Genetic Engineering

Genetic Engineering is a process of artificially modifying plant or animal cells by cutting and splicing DNA from one cell into another for the purpose of transferring desirable qualities that will make a crop resistant to herbicides, insects, or to enhance food value. When genetic engineers insert a new gene into any organism, there are what are called position effects. These effects can lead to unpredictable changes in patterns of gene expressions and genetic functions. The protein product of the inserted gene may carry out unexpected reactions, producing potentially toxic products.Genetically modified foods in U.S. markets include tomatoes, squash, yeast, corn, potatoes, canola and soybeans (which are used in 60 % of all processed foods, such as bread, pasta, candies, ice cream, pies, biscuits, margarine, meat products and vegetarian meat and cheese substitutes). Genetically engineered foods not tested nor labeled as genetically altered could jeopardize our health.

Living organisms are highly complex, and genetic engineers cannot predict all the effects of introducing these new genes. Problems may develop from this process: new toxins and allergens, loss of bio-diversity in seed and crops, or damaging health effects from manipulated food crops. When new genetic information is introduced into plants, bacteria, insects, or animals, it can then be passed into related organisms through naturally occurring processes such as cross-pollination.

It is estimated that 70% of the current genetically modified (GM) harvest is made up of herbicide-resistant crops (HRCs) designed to tolerate high levels of exposure to broad-spectrum herbicides, enabling farmers to spray only one heavy dosage per year, but still this does not break the overall cycle of dependence upon chemical applications.

This process has already created some herbicide-resistant “super weeds” causing many farmers to have to spray even greater quantities of herbicides on their GM crops because the weed species have become even harder to contr