Essay Genetically Modified Crops

Submitted By Scouting4Life
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Pages: 6

Genetically Modified Crops

As the world’s demand for food continues to increase plant breeders work to breed better yielding crop varieties. They use a range of methods including conventional breeding, mutagenesis, genetic modification, and marker aided selection to breed new improved crop varieties. Genetic modification allows plant breeders to produce a crop variety that could not be bred using conventional breeding

Genetically modified foods are foods derived from organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally.
An organism whose genetic characteristics have been altered by the insertion of a modified gene or a gene from another organism using the techniques of genetic engineering.

Genetically modified crops (GMCs, GM crops, or biotech crops) are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering techniques. In most cases the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species.

Genetic engineers use viruses, bacteria and a device called a “gene gun” to randomly move genes from one organism into another.

Pros
A proposed benefit of GM foods is that they can potentially produce higher crop yields, which could help by feeding more people in developing countries. 805 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That's about one in nine people on earth.

They are also cited as more economical, despite the initial higher cost of the seeds.
The rationale is that they reduce the need for pesticides and herbicides.
Improved food quality is another benefit associated with genetically modified foods. A tomato, for instance, can be engineered to stay fresher for longer, thereby extending its shelf life in the supermarket.
Genetically modified foods can be engineered to have a high content of a specific nutrient that is lacking in the diet of a local population group.

Cons
A worrisome issue in GM foods is the ability of a food to trigger an allergy in humans. Some of the genes used in GM technology might be taken from a food that causes allergies in some people. Inserting that gene into another organism could cause the host organism to express that allergen as a trait. Alternately, a new allergen could be produced when genes are mixed across different species.

Another potential downside to GM technology is that other organisms in the ecosystem could be harmed, which would lead to a lower level of biodiversity. By removing one pest that harms the crop, you could be removing a food source for an animal. Also, GM crops could prove toxic to an organism in the environment, leading to reduced numbers or extinction of that organism.

Given that some GM foods are modified using bacteria and viruses, there is a fear that we will see the emergence of new diseases. The threat to human health is a worrisome aspect of GM technology and one that has received a great deal of debate.

As the world’s demand for food continues to increase plant breeders work to breed better yielding crop varieties. Genetic modification is one these methods and it allows plant breeders to produce a crop variety that could not be bred using conventional breeding. Genetically modified crops are plants used in agriculture which the DNA has been modified using genetic engineering techniques. In most cases the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species. An example of this would be through the introduction of a gene from a different organism.

Genetic engineers use viruses, bacteria and a device called a “gene gun” to randomly move genes from one organism into another. From this the organism’s genetic characteristics will alter by the insertion of a modified gene or a gene from another organism.

Gene transfer technology is simply a sophisticated version of a cut-and-paste operation. Once the desired gene is identified in the native organism's genome, it…