Genetically Modified Organism

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<p>Genetically Modified Organism </p> <p>Genetically Modified Organism By: Marc Clifford Asis</p> <p>What is GMO?is a genetically modified organism (also called "genetically engineered"): a plant, animal, or microorganism that is created by means that overcome natural boundaries. Genetic engineering involves crossing species that could not breed in nature. For example, genes from a fish have been placed in strawberries and tomatoes.</p> <p>GMO means the genetic material has been altered with genetic-engineering processes. These processes use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. </p> <p>What Are the Concerns About GMOs?The proponents of GMOs say their use make agricultural products safer and more affordable; however, there is concern that they create crops that have not been proven safe for human consumption. Modified crops can become resistant to herbicides which have led to an increase in herbicide use. </p> <p>Should You Avoid GMO Foods?</p> <p>GMO foods raise many potential health concerns, including allergic reactions, decreased nutritional value, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, no long-term safety testing, ecological damage, increased herbicide use and more pesticides in food production. </p> <p>Soy and GMO</p> <p>It's estimated that 62 percent to 89 percent of all soy crops in the United States are from GMO stock. Soy and its related products (soy oil, soy lecithin [used as an emulsifier in chocolate, ice cream, margarine and baked goods] soy flour, etc.) are in a large percentage of the processed foods many Americans regularly consume. </p> <p>History</p> <p>GMOs are created in the laboratory when scientists isolate genes that are responsible for certain traits in one plant and insert the gene into another plant, or add genes from non-plant organisms to a plant. </p> <p>Types</p> <p>One of the most common non-plant organisms that is inserted into plants is the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, or B.t. B.t. creates crystals that are toxic to insect larvae. </p> <p>Function</p> <p>Corn crops that have been modified by adding B.t. form pesticide within the plant to fight off pests such as the European corn borer. </p> <p>Effects</p> <p> Other GMOs work to improve drought tolerance, disease resistance, cold tolerance, increased nutrition, and even to grow vaccines inside vegetables. </p> <p>Potential</p> <p>The use of GMOs in food is very controversial, but many researchers believe that it is necessary to improve crops genetically in order to feed a growing world population. For example, improving the nutritional value of a crop like rice could help fight malnutrition in Third World countries</p> <p>Disadvantages</p> <p>Environmental Impacts</p> <p>The creation of GMOs can lead to negative environmental impacts which might not be foreseeable when the GMO is created. For instance, an alteration to a certain plant might make it inedible or harmful to another organism such as an insect that relies on it for food. In some cases this can be a benefit, to protect the plant against pests, but it may also be a drawback if it harms organisms that are desirable or upsets the balance of the food chain. According to the Human Genome Project Information website, GMOs can result in unintended transfer of genes through cross-pollination, leading to unknown effects on other organisms. Health</p> <p>Another danger of GMOs is their potential to harm human health. Altering the genetic makeup of an organism could potentially introduce new allergenic properties to it. Some plants, such as peanuts, have powerful allergens that can kill humans. If a gene of a peanut were used to enhance a more common food crop, such as corn, it might introduce a similar allergen which could have a severe health impact. </p> <p>Economics</p> <p>Since GMOs have the potential to replace standard crops, the companies that produce them and the farmers who are able to use them stand to profit greatly. This could reduce the amount of competition between farmers and give the companies that create GMOs great power in the agricultural industry. Companies may even try to patent the genetic code of GMOs that they produce. This could create situations where a corporation essentially owns exclusive rights to produce and sell a certain organism. Technologically advanced countries would likely benefit the most economically from increasing GMO production. The Human Genome Project Information website states that GMOs may lead to increasing dependence on industrialized nations by developing countries. </p> <p>Ethics</p> <p>Critics of GMOs sometimes make arguments against genetic engineering on ethical grounds. For instance, some people feel it is unnatural or wrong to introduce the genes of animals into plants or from one plant to another, which may be likened to "playing God." In addition, animals used in genetic engineering procedures may be subjected to pain and stress.</p> <p>Advantages</p> <p>Insect and Disease Resistance</p> <p>One of the most important benefits of GMOs is their potential for adding to the healthiness and natural resistances of organisms. GMOs can potentially be created that have greater resistance to insect infestation and plant diseases. For instance, a certain strain of corn might produce a large amount of food tonnage, but be susceptible to insects, while another might repel the insects but produce a low amount of raw food tonnage. If the insect resistance of the lower yield plant were combined with the higher yield plant, a new GMO could be made that provides a large amount of food and resistance to insects. Another benefit of increased plant resistance is that it has the potential to reduce the amount of chemicals used on plants to protect against insects and disease, which can reduce pollution introduces to the environment. Chemical Resistance</p> <p>Some plants are susceptible to being overrun or choked out by weeds that compete for the same nutrients. Another benefit of GMOs is the potential to increase the chemical resistance of food crops, allowing herbicides to be used that will harm any weeds, while leaving the desirable crop relatively unaffected. This, in turn, can increase crop yields. Nutrients</p> <p> GMOs are especially important for developing countries where simple nutrition is of utmost concern. GMOs provide a potential for increasing the nutritional value of plants. For example, a region might rely heavily on a certain crop such as rice or corn, which may not have all the various vitamins and minerals necessary for proper nutrition. A plant that normally offers little or no vitamin A might be combined with the genes of another plant that is high in vitamin A. GMOs can introduce new sources of essential nutrients which can fight health problems caused by nutrient deficiencies. </p> <p>Profitability</p> <p>The benefits of GMOs can have an additional affect of increasing the profitability of farming. Having plants that are better able to resist various maladies can increase crop yields while reducing the amount of money spent on efforts to protect the plants. According to Monsanto.com, farmers made an additional $10 billion in 2007 from planting GMOs, which is due to increased yields and reduced production costs. </p> <p>CONCLUDING REMARKS</p> <p>In response to the question: "Do humans need GMOs?", the results of our simulation indicate that they do. The adoption of GMO production technology in relation to corn and soybeans could increase the quantity traded and reduce the upward pressure on food prices, although the major trading countries would stand to benefit the most from adopting a GMO production technology. There are some limitations to this research. The first is to assume that all exporting countries fully adopt (i.e. adopt 100%) the GMO production technology, while the importing countrieNs do not adopt such technology. If the importing countries were also to adopt the GMO production technology, the scale of the impact would be larger than that suggested by the above simulation results. The second restriction relates to the percentage change in the crop yield or the crop production cost when the GMO production technology is adopted. A 3.2% increase in the corn yield and a $3.2 per hectare reduction in the production cost of soybeans may underestimate what would happen in the future if the GMO production technology were to be promoted. Therefore, the above simulation results are underestimated. Finally, the external effects of adopting GMOs are not considered in this study. This will surely become a very important GMO-related research topic in the near future.</p>