Genetically Modified Crop Plants

Genetically modified crop plants are crop plants that genetic characteristics have been altered using the techniques of genetic engineering (The American Heritage® Science Dictionary). Genetically modified crop plants accomplishes guaranteeing plenty food supply for the growing population (Whitman, 2000). The first step of genetically modifying a crop is mapping. Mapping is when scientists finds and separate the gene with the preferred genetic characteristics. PCR is the next step when genetically modifying a crop.

PCR is when the scientist makes plenty copies of the separated gene (Bionet, 2002). Using a piece of plant tissue, the scientist inserts the wanted genes into the plant’s own genes. The genes can be transferred in three different ways; (1) a gene canon, (2) a soil bacteria, or (3) a material named protoplast (Bionet, 2002). The name for the process of gene insertion is “transformation”. Now that the genes have been transfer the scientist makes a new crop plant out of the genetically modified plant tissue. The scientist checks the transferred gene functions and if the gene shows up in the plant’s progeny (Bionet, 2002).

There are many social and ethical issues when it comes to genetically modifying crops. Ethical issues are based off three principles and they are general welfare, people’s rights, and justice. Some people see genetically modified crops as unnatural and disprove of their development (Nuffield Council on Bioethics). Others say it’s unethical to make nature an industrialized type thing because it’s just wrong. The effect GMO’s (genetically modified organism) have on the environment is another ethical concern (Nuffield Council on Bioethics).

The ethical debate is that GMO’s are damaging the environment; however others argue that “…genetically modifying technology a new tool which plant breeders are using to achieve their breeding goals more accurately and rapidly (Nuffield Council on Bioethics). ” Several of the genetically modified crops under development will change the way crops are managed on the farm. There may be benefits to the environment and wildlife but there may also be risks (Nuffield Council on Bioethics). These are more ethical issues that concern the people of society. Genetically modified (GM) crops on one side have been hailed as the solution to world hunger and have been criticized as environmentally dangerous, playing God and “illegitimately crossing species boundaries (Koole). ”” equal. The common fear among GM technology is that the gene pool could be harmed by reducing genetic diversity (Koole). Social implication comes in when the issue of world hunger is a concern. Socially, genetically modifying crops world be the solution to the possible problem of starvation. “The question of whether GM crops can be a means to prevent the starvation of children is evident” (Koole).

That’s how genetically modified crop plants effect the world, and it’s mostly in a chaos type of manner. The benefits of genetically modified foods are pest resistance, herbicide tolerance, disease resistance, cold tolerance, and drought tolerance (Whitman, 2000). Instead of farmers losing money because pest eating up their crops, GM crops is the solution to that problem because they are pest resistance. Crop plants genetically-engineered to be resistant to one powerful herbicide could help avoid environmental damage by reducing the amount of herbicides needed (Whitman, 2000).

There are many viruses that attack crop plants; therefore, plant biologists are working to create plants with genetically-engineered resistance the various diseases out. Unanticipated cold can wipe out sensitive seedlings. “An antifreeze gene from cold water fish has been introduced into plants such as tobacco and potato” (Whitman, 2000). With this antifreeze gene, these plants are capable to withstand through cold temperatures that usually would destroy unmodified seedlings.

Creating plants that can endure long periods of drought or high salt content in soil and groundwater will help out people to grow crops in previously harsh farming places. The risk of Gm plants falls under to categories; they are environmental hazards and human health risks. The risk of GM crops are unintended harm to other organisms, reduced effectiveness of pesticides, gene transfer to non-target species, allergenicity, and the unknown effects on human health (Whitman, 2000). “Last year a laboratory study was published in Nature showing that pollen from B. . corn caused high mortality rates in monarch butterfly caterpillars. Monarch caterpillars consume milkweed plants, not corn, but the fear is that if pollen from B. t. corn is blown by the wind onto milkweed plants in neighboring fields, the caterpillars could eat the pollen and perish. (Whitman, 2000). ” This concerned many scientists; however, it is very hard to predict how Gm crops will affect other organisms. When it comes to reducing the effectiveness of pesticides, many people are uneasy about insects becoming resistant to B. t. r other crops that have been genetically-modified to generate their own pesticides (Whitman, 2000). “Another concern is that crop plants engineered for herbicide tolerance and weeds will cross-breed, resulting in the transfer of the herbicide resistance genes from the crops into the weeds” (Whitman, 2000). This will result in “super weeds” that can’t be controlled. When it comes to human health risk, allergenicity is another problem that comes along with GM crops. “Many children in the US and Europe have grown life-threatening allergies to peanuts and other foods” (Whitman, 2000).

There is a chance that launching a gene into a plant may cause an allergic reaction in prone individuals. There is a rising worry that introducing unfamiliar genes into food plants may have an unexpected and negative impact on human health. I personally feel like the traditional way of farming and genetically modifying crop plants are very similar. There’s only a little different in genetic modification and traditional processing. Genetic modification is a more clear-cut method, where one can be accurate in transferring the most wanted characteristics.

In traditional processing the farmer cannot steer clear of the possibility that other characteristics may also be transferred (Bionet, 2002). Because of the growing population, we should go with the fastest method and that is GM crops. In conclusion, genetically-modified foods may be an opportunity to solve many of the world’s hunger and starvation problems, and to help shelter and maintain the environment by increasing yield and reducing dependence upon substance pesticides and herbicides.

However, there are many tests ahead for governments, particularly in the areas of safety testing, instruction, worldwide guiding principles and food classification (Whitman, 2000). Many people feel that genetic engineering is the unavoidable wave of the future and that we cannot afford to ignore a technology that has such massive possible benefits. However, we must progress with warning to keep away from causing unplanned damage to human health and the environment as a result of our interest for this potent technology,

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