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Who is afraid of GMO (genetically modified organism)?
Would you like to try some genetically modified soya? Probably not. Although no major health hazards concerning genetically modified food have been discovered and published by scientists since the genetic engineering techniques were developed, many people are very sceptic about both transgenical animals and plants. It frequently happens so despite the scientists’ opinions:
“GMO food is not dangerous for the people’s health but these are the consumers who possess the right to choose themselves. Therefore all GMO products should have the information that they have been genetically modified on their labels” (1), said on 5th April, 2006, the chief sanitary inspector of Poland.
On the other hand, the opponents often refer to GMO as “Frankenfood”, deriving the name from main character of the famous book by Mary Shelley, “Frankenstein” (a monster’s name) and still seem to be unconvinced:
“Perhaps all those food crops are completely safe, just as the authorities say”, says Maria, a housewife from eastern Poland, “but I’ve heard some rumours about side effects the GMO might cause. If you think logically you take into consideration the fact the organisms are altered in order to gain some new traits like pest or herbicides resistance. I guess it is impossible to achieve this target without implementing somehow toxic substances into the plants.” (2)
Another concern of the people who are uncomfortable with transgenical food and animals is its alleged allergenicity:
“The connection has not been found yet but it is just the matter of time”, thinks Robert, a student,“once in a history a gene responsible for allergy was unintentionally transferred from the Brazil nut into the genetically altered soybeans(3). It was not very serious, I guess, but the major question is that in my humble opinion if something has not been adequately investigated it should never enter the market. Who will take the responsibility if the altered food start producing immunogical reactions in the whole population of soybeans or corn consumers?”
Nowadays the facts are not many people know that genetically engineered organisms coexist on many fields with conventional crops. They have actually become part of life for many of us though we very rarely know about it.
The dispute about both the advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified food will probably linger for many years. Both parties have got rational arguments and emotional concerns: nobody knows today if GMO will not pose long term health risk hazards. On the other hand, as far as we know at present, these organisms seem to be ideal source of pharmaceutical and industrial enzymes. Who is right? We will probably know it in a very distant future. The most important task for today is to be a well-informed consumer provided with in-depth information and be able to make the right choice in accordance with your own principles.
As regards me, I do not intend to have genetically modified corn tonight. (4) I would rather buy some ecological one.
Podpowiedzi do tekstu
1) Skoro wszystkie produkty powinny mieć na etykietach informację, czy były modyfikowane genetycznie, byłaby to precyzyjna informacja dla konsumenta
2) Maria pyta: „Jak można to osiągnąć (odporność na szkodniki i herbicydy) bez jakiegoś umieszczenia w tych roślinach toksycznych substancji?
3) To właśnie przypadek przypadkowego przeniesienia genu odpowiedzialnego za alergię z orzeszków brazylijskich na soję.
4) Dziś wieczorem autorka na pewno nie zje genetycznie modyfikowanej kukurydzy.
1) The chief sanitary inspector of Poland is:
a) very sceptic about GMO.
b) certain consumers should be informed precisely whether the product is engineered genetically.
c) sure consumers should purchase only GMO.
d) convinced that producers should possess GMO at homes.
2) According to Maria, genetically modified organisms are not completely safe because:
a) they are damaged by pests.
b) it is impossible to carry out research on them.
c) they must contain some harmful substances to be efficient.
d) the authorities never tell the truth.
3) Robert has heard about the case of:
a) soya, that was by accident infected with the gene responsible for allergy.
b) health hazard connected with GMO – the Brazil nut that is toxic.
c) discovery of GMO corn that caused allergy.
d) gene responsible for allergy deliberately transferred from the Brazilian nut to soybeans.
4) The author of the article:
a) finds GMO very useful but does not intend to use them in her kitchen soon.
b) does not find GMO a good discovery as they pose a long term risk.
c) is going to use some GMO on the same day she writes the text
d) does shopping only in ecological stores
1b., 2 c, 3 a, 4a.