General, Research, Technology

What are transgenic products and why are Russians afraid of them?

How often on store shelves do you stumble uponproducts marked “does not contain GMOs” on the package? I guess this is not uncommon. Genetically modified are called products whose genes have been changed in such a way that the products have acquired certain properties - for example, taste or the ability to defend against parasites. If you pay attention to the vegetable sections in supermarkets, then your eyes will certainly fall on huge, dazzling red tomatoes, seedless watermelons, which are always sweet and seasonal fruits out of season. These wholesome delicacies fill the mind with a sense of uncontrolled well-being. Most of these products have been genetically modified. But what does that mean? And how does eating such foods affect health?

In this article, we will tell you about the reasons why you do not need to be afraid of GMOs.

What is genetic engineering?

Transgenic foods areorganisms that contain one or more genes different from those that originally belong to them. Using biotechnological methods, genes extracted from living things can be used, modified in laboratories, and reintroduced into the same or another organism. The goal of genetic engineering is to give organisms special qualities that they lacked - for example, protection from pests or viruses, and the ability to withstand drought or certain pesticides.

Although this is a controlled procedure and mostThe methods used for the production of GMOs are allowed; they provoked an intense debate between those who see the benefits of GMOs and those who point out the risks that these products may hide in themselves. Added to this discrepancy is the fact that no law requires manufacturers to indicate which products contain GMOs and which do not. According to the biologist Alexander Panchin, the author of the book “The Sum of Biotechnology”, people are afraid of GMOs because they do not understand what it is. According to surveys, about 29% of Russians are not aware that genes exist not only in genetically modified plants, but also in ordinary ones. Moreover, more than 70% are convinced that GMOs are dangerous to health.

OTR broadcast on the fear of Russians before GMOs

Are GMOs dangerous to health?

In 2013, researchers considered at leastone and a half thousand publications devoted to GMO products. The review is published in the journal Critical Reviews in Biotechnology. Scientists have concluded that GMOs do not pose a threat to human and animal health. Genetically modified organisms are animals or plant varieties whose genes have been modified by researchers in the laboratory. Also, do not forget that for all organisms on our planet, genes mutate over time. It is these mutations and changes that are called evolution. The difference between evolution in the natural habitat and a change in the genome in the laboratory is that in the laboratory, the researchers control these changes. How do you feel about GMOs? Let's discuss the topic of genetic engineering with participants in our Telegram chat.

There are many opponents of GMOs in the world. A large role in the mass fear of GMOs was played by a study led by Gilles-Eric Séralini, which was published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology but subsequently withdrawn. The publication spoke about the dangers of GMO corn, which supposedly causes cancer. The removal of the article means that the conclusions of the study are unreliable and contain errors. Shortly after the publication of Seralini was withdrawn, an article by Alexander Panchin was published in the journal, with a detailed description of the inaccuracies in the study of Seralini.

Laboratory rat that participated in an incorrect study of Seralini

However, among the representatives of the scientific community,nevertheless, there are opponents of GMOs. So, one of the main arguments against genetic engineering does not relate to the products themselves, but to the way they are used: these products do not produce viable seeds, so farmers are completely dependent on suppliers - usually large multinational companies that control production. While many proclaim that genetically modified foods will be able to feed the entire population of the planet, others say that the problem of hunger in the world is spreading, not technology: food is for everyone, but it is poorly distributed. Juan Felipe Carrasco, the agronomist who led the Greenpeace campaign against GMOs in 2010, is one of many opponents of this type of food because of its environmental impact and the loss of biological diversity that they entail.

As for you and me, next time,when you find the inscription “does not contain GMOs” on the packaging of certain products, remember that it appeared there due to marketers' awareness that more than 70% of Russians are afraid of GMOs, and this fear, as you can see, is not no reason.