26th, September, 2009IntroductionEnvironmental safety, human safety, food security and several other factors have led to the development of new technologies to help solve food security problems. The new technologies developed however have led to other problems. Introduction of genetically modified food including cereals is one of such developments. The use of biotechnology to produce food according to the supporters of the use of GM foods, lead to increased food security, to reduced use of pesticides hence environmental safety and is safe for human consumption. Non supporters of GM however, have a list of problems that have arisen due to the use of GMs and those that will arise later.
The debate on whether to use GMs cereals or not is still going on even though some countries have implemented the use of GM crops. The use of GM cereals also depends on the consumers. According to Green Peace Australia Pacific, most consumers reject the GM foods making international and large foods shops reject their involvement with GM foods (2008). Consumers’ attitudes, the advantages and the disadvantages of GM cereals and foods, political influence and several other factors make different governments have different policies on GM cereals making different countries accept or reject GM cereals.
This paper aims to discus the case for and against GM cereals considering their introduction into the Australian and global environment. Genetically Modified Foods (Cereals)Genetically modified cereals are those made using latest molecular biology techniques. The cereals are modified to suit human and animal consumption as well as prevent destruction from pests. In some cereals, the genetic modification considers cost effectiveness and nutritional contents. Modification of cereals to have desired traits have been made possible by genetic engineering which allows transfer of genes from one plant to the other or even from an organism to a plant depending on the trait desired to be in the cereal.
If for example a drought resistant cereal crop is required, a specific gene responsible for drought resistance can be taken from a drought resistant plant and inserted into a different plant. This kind of gene transfer has been done by use of a bacteria species’ genes. Bacillus thuringiensis genes have been used in corns to make them resistant to some pests.
The genes are responsible for the development of crystal proteins that are lethal to insect larvae. Insertion of this gene has enabled such kind of genetically modified corns to produce their own pesticides (Whitman, 2000). Due to high levels of research investment, various cereals have been transformed including rice, soybeans, oilseeds and corn. This genetic transformation however may only be a success at the research level and not at the commercial production level. Not many of the genetically modified cereals have been accepted and are being used due to several factors and reasons which will be discussed below.
As noted previously, genetically modified food are not accepted in every part of the world depending on the government, the development of that country and so many other factors (Hudson, 2001). The Case for Introduction of Genetically Modified Cereals into Australia and the Global World