Genetic Engineering Awareness Week
What are you Eating?
Campaign for Food Safety and Awareness
General Education Honors Project
March 31, 2000
Table of Contents
The Project___________________________________________________________ 3
Team Budget__________________________________________________________ 6
Supplemental Bibliography_______________________________________________ 8
Team Signatures_______________________________________________________ 9
The technological changes and innovations during the last 20 years have created a remarkable array of new creations. All living organisms are compromised of a substance called deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which contains genes that are the ‘blueprint’ for that organism. Scientists discovered that DNA was interchangeable between organisms and created new breeding methods such as crossbreeding, gene injection, and DNA modification techniques. This allowed scientists to take desirable traits from one organism and give that characteristic to another. A genetically engineered product is one that was developed by modifying DNA.
(www.aphis.usda.gov/bbep/bp/overview.html) There has been an increase in generically engineered crops over the years and they continue to rise. In 1996, 4 million acres of land worldwide were planted with these crops versus having 98 million acres with genetically engineered crops in 1999 (Frankmore, p.A-38). In 1998, 77% of the world’s genetically engineered crops were produced in the United States (Batie, 1999). Currently the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require the labeling of genetically engineered products (Kessler, 1992, p. 1747). However, legislation is now being introduced into congress to determine how these products should be dealt with. In 1998, the United States patent office received 289 applications for patent approval for new genetically engineered crops (Batie, 1999).
It is often hard to understand complex technological and scientific concepts when one does not have prior experience in the field. Genetic engineering is a division of biotechnology. It is something that one encounters in their everyday life, but at the same time it’s hard to understand what a genetically engineered product is, and what effects it could have on your life. While is has been well documented that the European Union is opposed to genetically engineered foods which they nicknamed ‘Frakenfoods’, the thoughts and beliefs of American consumers has not yet been examined (Batie, 1999). The main goal of the biotech community should be to take the complex topic of genetically engineered crops, and make it understandable to Americans to allow them to formulate and make educated decisions on the subject.
Due to the high complexity and scientific nature of genetic engineering, people aren’t aware of this topic. However, the spectrum of genetic engineering reaches beyond the realm of science, as it is part of each area of general education. For example, it affects globalization because it could have an impact on population rates, provides nutrition, affects people differently and have social and economic impacts. Biotechnology crosses the area of pluralism as it has an effect on public policies and opinions. It is part of the area of aesthetics as it could change the landscapes and food appearance. Mathematics is involved in the use of forecasting future trends and profits. New genetically engineered products have the potential to drive a large amount of businesses out of business. For example, a genetically engineered product called BgH can increase milk production by 40% and would tend to force about 30% of all dairy farms in the US out of business once introduced into the market (Perlas, 1994, p.40). In the case of new genetically engineered ‘golden rice’ which contains high level of beta-carotene (Vitamin A) to combat blindness in malnourished Asian countries. Instead however, Asians experienced a Vitamin A toxicity which resulted in abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and deformities of the body as well as problems with the depletion of its scarce water resources by using more then the traditional amounts (www.purefoods.com). Genetically engineered products have the potential to be highly destructive creating gene mutations, superweeds, health risks, and unknown effects from lack of research and evidence on safety issues. Consumers should be aware of the foods that they are eating and possible long term effects.
Batie, S. (1999). Agricultural Biotechnology: Can it Pass the Consumer Test? Michigan State
University Department of Agricultural Economics. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on March 11, 2000: http://www.aec.msu.edu/agecon/search
In 1997, the United States Patent Office received 289 applications for patent approvals for genetically altered plants. In 1999, 65 million acres of cropland were used to produce genetically altered crops,