Genetically Modified Organisms

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Genetically Modified Organisms

By | September 2010
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Introduction
Genetically modified organisms ( GMO’s) is a term most commonly used to refer to crop plants created for human or animal consumption using the latest biotechnology techniques. These plants have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content. The enhancement of desired traits has traditionally been undertaken through breeding, but conventional plant breeding methods can be very time consuming. Genetic engineering, on the other hand, can create plants with the exact desired trait very rapidly and with great accuracy. For example, plant geneticists can isolate a gene responsible for drought tolerance and insert that gene into a different plant. The new genetically-modified plant will gain drought tolerance as well. Not only can genes be transferred from one plant to another, but genes from non-plant organisms also can be used. The best known example of this is the use of Bacillus thuringiensis genes in corn and other crops. B. thuringiensis, is a naturally occurring bacteria that produces crystal proteins that are toxic to insect larvae. B. thuringiensis crystal protein genes have been transferred into corn, making the corn produce its own pesticides against insects such as the European corn borer.

Ensuring Adequate Food Supply
The world population has topped 6 billion people and is predicted to double in the next 50 years. Ensuring an adequate food supply for this booming population is going to be a major challenge in the years to come. GMO’s promise to meet this need in a number of ways: Pest resistance Crop losses from insect pests can be devastating and result in devastating financial loss for farmers and starvation in developing countries. Farmers typically use many tons of chemical pesticides annually. Consumers do not want to eat food that has been treated with pesticides because of potential health hazards, and run-off of agricultural wastes...