Monday, August 2, 2010

GeNeticAlly MoDifieD FooD (GMF)

        Genetically modified food(GMF) is well known in modern days. Genetically modified foods were first put on the market in the early 1990. They are created using biotechnology to change their genetic material. The food may be genetically modified to increase its shelf like, make it to be more resistance to the pesticides and insecticides, or improved the crop nutritional yield. Genetically modified foods are derived from the genetically modified organisms which the organisms that had specific changes introduced into their own DNA by the genetic engineering techniques. The techniques by which the humans modified food organisms are selective breeding includes plant breeding and animal, and somaclonal variation. Genes are actually the blueprints for a human’s body and control factors such as growth and development. Within almost every cell of the body, genes are beaded along tightly bundled strands of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA called chromosomes. These are encased by a nuclear membrane to produce a nucleus. Genes use the chemical messages to instruct the cell to perform its function by making the proteins or enzymes. Just by introducing a foreign gene, scientists prompt the altered cell to make a new proteins, which the cell able to perform new functions. The techniques that are used to transfer the foreign cells include, bacterial carries, biolistics, calcium phosphate precipitation, gene silencing, gene splicing, lipofection, microinjection and viral carriers. The safety tests for the genetically modified food are very important to the public. In Australia, the foods or ingredients that have been genetically modified must be subjected to pre-market safety assessment by the government food regulator, which is known as Food Standards Australia New Zealand(FSANZ). Those genetically modified foods offered for sale must have their own GM status identified on the food label. Genetically modified foods have been the subject of much controversy. Genetic engineering able to make plants that give farmers better yields through several different methods. Other than that, GM can also be used to change the properties of the crops, adding nutrients, make them taste better or reduce the growing time.

Types of Genetically Modified Food
           There are a lot of type of genetically modified food nowadays as shown below:
Modified Lemon
Modified Orange

Modified Banana

Modified Tomatoes

Modified apple

Modified Sweet Corn

Golden rice is one of the genetically modified food that is rich in vitamin A.This golden rice will give us more vitamin A where it is being modified with a high amount of beta-carotene
which will be converted to vitamin A in our body.This vitamin is good for our eyes especially.As a result, it is one of the important source for the people from poor country for example Africa, and they are lack of enough vitamins and nutrients due to the limited diet they take everyday. Hence,they will have night-blindness as the symptom of vitamin A-deficiency disease over time.Some of the crops are genetically engineered to be resistant to the particular insect pests. For example, insecticide sweet corn. The toxin genes known as Bt toxin from a bacterium found in the soil( Bacillus thuringiensis) are inserted into the sweet corn’s DNA. Therefore, the plants produce toxins that specifically deadly to the larvae of their pest insects. This will make the plants become insect resistant(IR). Another genetically modified food is long-lasting tomatoes, also named as FlavrSavr. This tomato is formed by deactivating a gene, which the plant was no longer able to produce an enzyme known as polygalacturonase, enzyme that involve in fruit softening. Polygalacturonase causes the tomatoes to rot. Therefore, less secretion of this enzyme enable the tomatoes to remain firm and fresh for a long time. Some of the farm animals such as pigs, cows and chickens are genetically modified for faster growth rates, leaner muscle-to-fat ratios, have better resistance to disease or the ability to produce higher levels of omega-3s in the meats. In plants, there are also being modified for nutrition purpose. The plants are being modified to yield higher protein or nutrient levels or to produce healthier oils containing functional food components such as omega-3 fatty acids.

Advantages of Genetically Modified Food 

       Undoubtedly, Genetically modified foods became more and more common nowadays where it involve in combining different species with desirable genes in order to produce a brand new genetically altered crosses with better productivity,nutritional value and also ecological value.Therefore,it actually gives many advantages or benefits compare to the negative impacts or dangers it gave.The main benefit it gave is dealing with the ability of the modified crops to kill the harmful insects or being resistant to the crop spray that they use to kill the pesticides.In this respect, this genetically modified food such as soya beans,corn and sugar cane have been modified prior to tolerate with the crop spray when the spray is used to kill most of the pesticides without killing the plants at the same time.Besides,scientists also modify the sweet corn genetically where these sweet corn can produce certain poison to kill the insects that is harmful to them instead of wasting time to kill the insects using insecticides which should be done by the farmer consistently.This genetically modified sweet corn is known as Bt-corn and this killing gene that the scientist introduce into the plant is from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis.

As for the prevention of disease-causing bacteria or viruses,phytochemicals are one of the gene products that the scientists introduce to the genetically modified food to prevent them from diseases.Ultimately, genetically modified crops will produce more yield due to the inbuilt resistant properties towards the insect,diseases and crop spray.This will surely produce a more environmental friendly condition where the pesticides and insecticides used is very toxic and will undermined our health usually.This is because,the inbuilt properties that used in genetically modified foods will therefore decrease the use os pesticides or insecticides that is harmful to the plants.Genetically modified foods often give more nutritional value and more choice with different flavor and colour compared to the original foods,fruits,vegetables and so on.For instance,genetic engineering is one of the important way to enhance the nutritional value by increasing the quantity and quality of nutrients such as vitamin A and iron.Tomatoes are often modified genetically to increase their shelf life so that they are long lasting as well as delayed time in tomatoes’ ripening that often produce a fresher flavor.

Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Food
        Although genetically modified food may seem to bring a lot of convenience and advantages, there are still the con side of the well develop technology. Studies have shown the disadvantages of genetically modified food to human health. The new genes that are introduced to the food could be resistant to certain antibiotics, hence, this will reduce the effectiveness of antibiotic. Thus, doctors will have difficulties fighting infectious disease. Consuming these GM food will then leads to development of diseases that are immune to the antibiotics. Besides, new allergen may be accidentally created and may cause allergic reaction to susceptible individuals or causing unknown health effect. Eg, if a gene of peanuts was introduced to a tomato, people who is allergic to peanuts will also be allergic to that tomato. Besides, there are also environmental problem caused by genetically modified foods. There is possibility that genes introduced to genetically modified rape crop could be transferred to pests. The pest may eventually become resistant to the crop spray and will serve no purpose. A stronger spray will have to be invented to counter them. Indirectly, this will also cause contamination to the environment. The invention of genetic modified corn which will kill harmful insect has killed some useful predatory insects which will disturb the ecology. It also killed the precious beautiful insect like the Monarch butterfly. Gene transferred to non-target species through cross pollination is also another concern of genetically modified food. The transfer of herbicide resistance genes into weeds has caused these ‘superweeds’ to be herbicide tolerant. Other introduced genes will eventually cross over into non-modified plants planted next to genetically modified crops. Unknown effects may occur on other organisms and loss of flora and fauna biodiversity. Besides, cross-contamination will also occur during modification for pharmaceuticals use which then contaminate the food crops.


       The technology of having genetically modified food helps to improve on many aspects including improved storage and nutritional quality, pest and disease resistance, selective herbicide tolerance and higher yields and qualities. There are also disadvantages on genetically modified food. However, further studies shows that genetically modified foods do not pose serious threats to human health or world’s ecosystems. It is important that the people nowadays should concern about the genetically modified foods.

GMF Video Clip 



1.Mavis Butcher. 2009. GM Food. Retrieved 22nd July,2010 from
2.Deborah B. Whitman. 2000. Genetically Modified Foods:Harmful or Helpful?. Retrieved 20th July,2010 from
3.Arpad Pusztai. 2001. Genetically Modified Foods: Are They a Risk to Human/Animal Health?. Retrieved 25th July,2010 from
4.Human Genome Project Information. 2008. Genetically Modified Foods and Organisms. Retrieved 22nd July,2010 from
Diana Bocco. 2010(Last Modified). What are the Pros and Cons of Genetically Engineered Food?. 5.Retrieved 29th July,2010 from

Prepared by GROUP 2

Lee Pei Lee Angel 1000716338

Lai Hooi Shian 1000923482

Angeline Loo 1000923275

Karthini Nagalingam 1000923675


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