By Morenike Taire
Finally, the global reality that is Genetic Modification of food has hit us. The blue-eyed-boy of the Jonathan administration, Agriculture Minister, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, has vehemently denied his formally introducing genetically modified foods into the Nigerian market, but he has been accused of being economical with the facts.
In any case before this time, loose food administration and control has allowed foods from all kinds of sources through our very porous borders, resulting in supermarket shelves being piled high with ‘unnatural’ looking and tasting foods with largely unverifiable sources and this is not about to change anytime soon, particularly with foreign fruits and veggies, as well as oils.
In a country such as ours, it becomes the full responsibility of the consumer to watch what they put in their mouths, and to know the facts.
Organic foods have many known advantages which make them better than conventional foods including their ability to help prevent certain diseases such as Cancer, stroke and other heart diseases. Research has shown that organic fruits and vegetables contain about 40% more antioxidants than non-organic fruits and vegetables. Organic foods also contain salicylic acids which help prevent hardening of arteries and cancer.
In addition, organic foods protect the environment from pollution since chemicals which cause environmental pollution are not used in cultivating organic crops as organic soils contain more micro organisms than conventional soils. These micro organisms store carbon in the soil which helps to maintain the global climate.
Another advantage of organic foods is that they have good taste and natural flavour. Research performed on animals also revealed that animals which fed on organic food were able to reproduce more than those which were fed non-organic food. Needless to say, organic foods help you to control or even lose unnecessary weight.
No doubt, there are also arguments for Genetic Modification. For one it saves the use of toxic chemicals. GM crops can be made resistant to pests, so pesticides do not need to be sprayed on them. This is also better on the environment! Likewise if pests cannot eat the crops, nothing goes to waste.
It could potentially solve hunger as genetically modified foods increase the yields of crops. Foods can also be grown under different conditions. For instance, strawberries can be genetically engineered to grow in the tropics.
Despite these advantages, many people refuse to eat genetically modified foods over concerns that it could be dangerous to their health. Around here there is certainly need for more transparency and more integrity on this matter.