What is a genetically modified organism?
A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using techniques in genetics generally known as recombinant DNA technology. Viruses, bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals are all examples of organisms that have been engineered so that they contain genes from at least on unrelated organism. To create a genetically modified organism a molecule from a different source are combined into another molecule to create a new set of genes. One example of a genetically modified organism is the monkey named ANDi created in 2000. He carries the gene for a green fluorescent protein derived from Jellyfish called the GFP gene.
What are three current uses of these organisms?
Genetically modified organisms are mostly known for uses in agriculture and crops but are also used for pharmaceutical uses, and in biological and medical research. GMO’s are used in crops such as corn because they have been modified in a way that they have somewhat become pest resistant and herbicide tolerant. In making our crops pest resistant there are less crop losses and it also helps in elimination of having to apply chemical pesticides. Crops that contain GMO’s can also be engineered to be resistant to certain herbicides with helps in preventing environmental damage by reducing the amount of herbicides needed. As far as GMO’s in pharmaceuticals and medical research, we are now able to clone the genes necessary to create insulin whereas we used to have to harvest it from the pancreas of killed animals. They are also in the process of developing edible vaccines in tomatoes and potatoes to make medicines and vaccines easier to ship, store, administer, and to make them cost less. Scientists have also created a GMO (lactase) that is added to dairy products so consumers that are lactose intolerant can still enjoy those items.
What types of genetic modifications could we support and why?
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