As wary as we are about genetically-modified food, we?re tempted to succumb when new products are created that improve our personal lives, instead of simply making things easier for huge farming conglomerates. Perhaps GM companies will try to win us over to their side by seducing us with some of their new inventions.
One of these new products may be the genetically-modified ?spidergoat.? Scientists at the Canadian company Nexia have figured out how to combine the DNA from a goat and a spider to create a goat which produces silk that is five times stronger than steel. The fiber will be spun from the their milk, since science is not yet up to creating spinnerets on the stomachs of goats.
The silkmilk fiber can be used to make body armor far stronger than normal bullet-proof vests that weighs about the same as a cotton shirt. Most of us don?t wear bullet-proof clothing as part of our daily attire, but perhaps it could be used to make regular clothes last longer as well.
The hybrid goats were created by inserting a single gene from an orb-weaving spider into a fertilized goat egg. The GM goats look normal, but carry the gene responsible for production of the spider silk protein. Each goat is actually 1/70,000th spider (Spiderman had more spider in him than that).
Most of us don?t want spider-strong clothes, since we?d no longer have an excuse to buy new ones. But we could use a tomato engineered to contain higher levels of a cancer-preventing chemical. This GM tomato was created at Purdue University by accident, while scientists were trying to create tomatoes that wouldn?t ripen quickly, so they could be transported longer distances (and most of the ones they?ve created already don?t seem to ripen at all).
Tomatoes are good weapons against cancer, especially prostate cancer, because they contain lycopene, which is what gives the tomato its red color. Lycopenes are antioxidants that can help prevent cell damage in the body. A recent study of thousands of men found that eating 10 or more servings of tomato sauce or fresh tomatoes a week reduced their prostate cancer risk by 45%. Other research has found that lycopene can reduce your "bad" cholesterol.
The new GM tomato contains between 2 and 3 ? times the lycopene of the average tomato. Randy Woodson of Perdue says, ?When you just take lycopene as a drug, it doesn?t have the same effect. There is still a lot of biology to understand before we know why phytonutrients in food are so much more effective than if they are given as supplements.?
Is it safe to play around with nature in this way? Will we create a wonderful new future or are we in danger of ruining the natural world? To find out, read ?Eating in the Dark: America?s Experiment with Genetically-Engineered Food? by Kathleen Hart,click here.
To learn about spidergoats, 4057,4562471%255E13762,00.html,click here.
To learn about GM tomatoes,click here.
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