When you walk into the supermarket and see the huge, red tomatoes on the display counter, don’t you just want to gobble them down? But are you sure that the tomatoes in your hand are not the product of the latest laboratory experiment? Ever since man reached the moon, the universe has seemed small to us; ascending to heaven no longer seems hard. Insatiably greedy, people now want to take a step further and usurp the Creator’s role.
As can be seen from the successful cloning of a sheep, the field of genetics has made great progress in recent years. One outstanding invention affects our lifestyle very directly, namely: genetically engineered food. What is genetically engineered food? Genes are made up of strands of DNA. Genetically engineered food involves inserting the genes of one kind of plant or animal into the genes of another species of living thing. For example, human genes may be inserted into the genes of a pig; fish genes may be put into tomatoes; insect genes may be placed in potatoes, and so forth, bringing about various kinds of genetically engineered changes. Why would we want to go through all the trouble to alter food in this way? Because genetically engineered food has a longer shelf-life; it doesn’t spoil as fast. And genetically engineered fruits and vegetables are a bit larger. That sounds great, but if you look at the longterm effects and consider the issue from more angles, you might not be so inclined to accept genetically engineered food.
Although medical experts have confirmed that genetically engineered food has about the same nutritional value as ordinary food, genetically engineered food reduces the antibodies in our bodies, making it easy for toxins to accumulate. Furthermore, if people who are allergic to the flesh of a certain kind of animal ingest food containing the genes of that animal, there may be very serious consequences.
As a Buddhist, I hope the fruits and vegetables on my table are pure; I believe other vegetarians share my point of view. Jews and Muslims also have regulations concerning diet. I am pretty sure our Muslim friends would not want to eat grapes containing pig genes.
Some genetically engineered foods have more antibodies than ordinary food, so the usual pesticides have little effect. Farmers must spend money to buy more pesticide to spray on the crops. We all know that pesticides are unhealthy and that using them in large quantities pollutes the environment.
These genetically engineered plants are very harmful to the ecosystem. If genetically engineered plants are used to pollinate ordinary plants of another species, the result will be a mutation. This would cause the destruction of the ecosystem at the rate of about one percent annually; the longterm consequences can hardly be imagined. Another potential problem is that new viruses may be created. Fusing virus-infected genes with virus-free genes could create a new, unnamed virus. While this could be controlled in the laboratory, if the new virus spread outside the laboratory, it would be hard to control. Since we don’t have any resistance to it, the new virus could cause the deaths of a large segment of human and/or animal populations.
Genetic engineering is science‘s newborn baby and new pet. Prior to it, science always operated in accord with Nature’s laws. It could be said that genetic engineering involves altering the most basic of these laws. While it may help to improve our farm products, it also brings hidden dangers of immeasurable scope to our next generation.
The above examples have probably conjured up visions of a mutant world, where the flowers in the garden resemble pigs, or a watermelon is seen chasing people down the street. Why haven‘t restrictions been placed on developments in this area? In this era when people’s rights and freedom take first priority, we have no means to limit other people‘s inventions and discoveries. However, we do have the right to choose what we want. Therefore, we hope that all products can be properly labelled as to whether or not they contain genetically engineered food. This is only right that consumers have, and it is the most powerful weapon we have for saying “No” to genetic engineering.