By Peter Sunday
The African Union a few months back called for an explanation regarding the good and the bad of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for Ugandans to decide which path to take.
The debate comes at a time when 400 African organizations representing small scale farmers, faith based organizations, social movements, NGOs, organic producers, consumers business people have signed an African civil society petition sent to African union denouncing GMOs on the basis of lack safety data on GMOs.
According to Mpofo, (2013), the GMO seed won’t solve any of our problems meaning it is likely to create more trouble than good.
GMOs are organisms whose genetic material have been altered using genetic engineering techniques and those modified include micro-organisms such as bacteria, yeast, insects, plants, fish and mammals.
GMOs are the source of genetic modified foods and can also be goods other than food. It involves mutation, insertion deletion of genes and these come from other species hence the horizontal genes transfer.
Advantages of GMOs
The goods are heavily studied, go through a rigorous certification process and are therefore, safe to consume. Some studies have been conducted on mice first before being allowed to be consumed by humans.
They are cheaper food to produce in that they are high yielding, mature fast and therefore, rein in bigger profits for commercial farmers. Because of a combination of genes, they have high nutrition values which are good for human body development and are safe to consume. For instance GM oil seeds are healthier, cassava with lower glucosides and lower cynomogen is produced. Golden rice rich in Vitamin A is also produced owing to this.
The products enhance industrial production in that algae, jatropha, maize and poplars which are genetically modified increase on the bio fuel production.
In the case of GMOs particularly mammals they can be used to research particularly human diseases, produce industrial and consumer products, enhances animal interactions with humans and enhances animal health.
Disadvantages or bads of GMOs
Harm to other organisms owing to the fact that the genes included may have an effect which may be poisonous to other crops.
The Taste of GMO products is not as good as natural foods. A case in point is the local Bogoyas (sweet bananas) can’t be compared with Genetically Modified Bogoyas in terms of taste. Natural pollination process in GMOs is slow compared to organic crops.
Spread of new more resistant weeds owing to the introduction of new crop species just as relatedly there is a strong likelihood of widespread infestation of diseases across species barriers.
Major trading countries are involved in conflicts in relation to patent rights of the products produced.
Genetically modidfied corn can trigger health problems like allergies.
This has been confirmed in genetically engineered yellow corn much as it was It was found that a genetically engineered soya bean containing Brazilian nut protein was allergenic to humans and was withdrawn from production.
Genetically modified ingredients can cause cancer. A consultant histopathologest at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Dr Stanley Ewen, raised the concern that food and water contaminated with genetically engineered material could increase the growth of malignant tumours upon contact with humans. Later, other studies suggested a link between engineered food and cancer.
It also has effects on the immune system as a study in 2008 showed that feeding mice engineered food for 30 days caused an immune reaction and altered the number of cells that regulated the immune functions in the body.
On the monetary aspect the GMO goal here is simple to make a product that can endure the impossible and make the most money.
This GMO Production has led to Under-Developed countries becoming more dependent on other communities.
A case in point is when there was developing the golden rice, a genetically modified rice that contains larger amounts of vitamin A, which can be beneficial to poor people in developing countries. However, it is usually the large companies of the developed world that can produce such crop engineering which will increase the dependency of poor counties on the Wild, Wild West!
Al lin all there are controversies on GMO production.It has already taken root in Botswana, South Africa and South Sudan. Howvever we ought to go into it carefully and not neglect the indigenous species.
The writer is a researcher
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The good and bad of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)