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Engineered Food This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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      Fifty years ago scientists would have been laughed at if theyhad told people cigarettes were harmful. Forty years ago they would have beenescorted off a beach if they had warned beach-goers about dangerous ultravioletlight. Thirty years ago no one would have believed that if cows were givencertain feed they would contract mad cow disease. Twenty years ago no heavy metalband would throw away their Aqua-Net hair spray for fear of contributing to thedeterioration of the ozone layer.

Today there's speculation over whethercell phones will be the next to go since they have been proven to be radioactive.So, what is the next nifty accessory to be proven disastrous? Possiblygenetically engineered (GE) food, since it poses potentially dangerous risks tohumans, animals and Mama Nature. This matter has not been given as much attentionin the United States as the possible recall of cellular phones, but GE food hasbeen banned in Europe because of its potential risks. This situation should notbe ignored since skin cancer, mad cow disease and pollution plague the worldtoday due to past ignorance.

Genetically engineered food changes natureby mixing species' genes. Genetic engineers cut segments of DNA out of animals,bacteria, plants or viruses in order to insert them into unrelated plants andanimals. Sometimes petunia, virus, and antibiotic-resistant genes are insertedinto soybeans, making a new breed of plant, a new breed of life! Also, jellyfishgenes have been inserted into vegetables and, incredibly, human genes have beenincorporated into plants and animals. Over 60% of processed food in the UnitedStates now contain GE products such as corn, soy, or cotton.

So whatrisks are inside GE foods? Scientists warn that because there are so few studiesof GE foods no one can say they are absolutely safe. A few possible risks includethe creation of new food allergies, loss of antibiotics to fight disease,bug-repellent resistant insects, and even an increase in the spread of diseasesthat can't be cured by antibiotics.

There is bad news about the Americanfood supply, but due to consumer pressure, cautionary steps have been taken inother countries. Labels are now required on GE foods in Europe, Japan, Russia andother countries. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require labelingof GE food, which is a bad idea considering the apparent risk factors, and thatother countries have taken steps to prevent a possible disaster.

Manyresponsible companies have even banned GE ingredients due to the possibleirreversible, long-term risks to human health and the environment. Thesecompanies include Frito-Lay, Gerber Baby Food and Heinz. Kellogg's has stoppedusing GE foods, but only in the products they sell in Europe! What kind of amessage are they sending: they recognized GE foods to be harmful, but onlyEuropeans should be spared while Americans continue to eat their way todestruction?

GE foods may cause serious damage to human and animal healthand the environment but concerned consumers do not take action. Just like ignoredhazards of the past, when this generation is viewed by historians, it will becriticized if corporations are allowed to perform genetic experiments upon thepeople who love their pancakes, hot dogs and veggies.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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