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  • For centuries humans have selected plants and animals with certain characteristics to enhance breeds - this is a simple form of genetic modification

  • The term GM (genetically modified) food refers to crops grown by inserting genes from one plant, or even animal, to another to give that crop certain new features

  • For instance, a farmer may want to stop a weed growing in his field by spraying it with a chemical weed killer. However this might also kill the crop he wants to keep. By inserting a gene from a plant that is not killed by the herbicide into the crop, the farmer can now spray weed killer without harming the crop

Arguments against GM foods

  • The results of genetic modification are unpredictable. There are concerns that cross-pollination with other species will produce ' superweeds' with genes from GM crops that cannot be killed by conventional chemicals

  • There are also concerns about the health implications for humans. Transplanted genes might come from plants or animals that have never been in the food chain before which may lead to health problems

  • People are worried that there has not been long-term studies into the effects of GM foods and that we will not know about any potential problems until it is too late

Arguments for GM foods

  • Some people say that GM crops are environmentally friendly because they reduce the need for chemical fertilisers and produce more food on a smaller area of land

  • Crops can be modified to give health benefits to humans. A type of rice called 'Golden Rice' contains more of a chemical which the body converts into Vitamin A. A lack of Vitamin A can lead to blindness and general health problems

  • Those in favour of GM foods say that the crops are tested for safety more than non-GM foods, and there is no evidence yet that shows GM foods are bad for us

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