We're surrounded by modified food

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 October, 2009, 12:00am

Did you know that nearly all food is genetically modified these days? When you are eating beans from a can, for example, they are GMO beans. It really shocked me when I discovered that biotechnology has infiltrated the enitre food industry. I knew the concept of GM food but I did not realise how much it is part of our daily lives.

One of my classmates told me that the fried chicken we buy from a famous fast-food restaurant is actually GMO chicken. The chickens are modified so they don't grow feathers. They look more like aliens than chickens. Just the thought of eating them now makes me feel disgusted.

Meanwhile, farmers plant GMO crops to increase their yield. The problem is nobody knows whether these GMO foods cause cancer or have other negative effects. Scientists are even taking fish genes and splicing them with tomato genes in pursuit of tomatoes that can grow quickly at low temperatures. Where will it end?

Funny Chan, STFA Tam Pak Yu College

From the Editor

Thank you for your letter, Funny. I'm afraid you've been a victim of what we call an urban legend. The chicken company targeted in this legend is KFC. The legend says the brand has managed to grow chickens without beaks, feathers and even feet. But it's simply not true.

First of all, science has not progressed to the stage where chickens can be produced like this. Second, KFC does not raise its own chickens; it buys them from chicken farmers. If you ever think a story is a little on the wild side, check it out on www.snopes.com and usually you will find out the truth.

GMO foods, however, are a potential danger for several reasons. As you rightly point out, we don't know the long-term effects of GMO food on humans. Also, we don't know the long-term effects of GMO food on the environment. Further, much of the seed for GMO food is owned by a private company, which puts a lot of power in the hands of private corporations. People should be given the option of whether or not they want to eat GMO food, but at the moment there are no laws that force food makers to label their food as such.

Susan, Editor