Genetically Modified Organisms
The purpose of this lab was to identify if non-labeled food products are actually genetically modified foods. Before we could begin testing this theory we first had to gain an understanding about genetically modified organisms in general. This was rather easy because if you have been to any grocery store lately you have without a doubt seen products with labels saying "GMO-free" or even "contains only non-GMO ingredients." GMO actually stands for Genetically Modified Organisms, and this refers to any products that have been manipulated or altered at the gene level.
Modifying plants is not a new concept. "For centuries, gardeners and farmers have been crossbreeding different species of plants to create plants that produce heartier, better tasting, or more beautiful crops." (Mateljan) However, crossbreeding of plants is acceptable to most individuals where as genetically modifying foods is not. According to the paper Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize " Currently, no regulatory authority requests mandatory chronic animal feeding studies to be performed for edible GMOs and formulated pesticides." (Séralini)This is a major concern to many individuals who have been unaware that they were consuming GMO's in the first place.
The genetic engineering of foods that is called GMO's causes many concerns around the world. To genetically engineer a plant one must first obtain genes from an animal, plant, bacterium, or virus. These genes are then inserted into a different organism, usually a plant, which changes the genetic code of the plant forever. The genetic code, or the blueprint that is used to determine all of the organisms physical characteristics are changed within the organisms, this is where people tend to have a problem with GMO's. According to the paper How to Deal with the Upcoming Challenges in GMO Detection in Food and Feed " In many countries legislations concerning GMO commercialisation have been adopted and although they differ from country to country, some issues are common." (Sylvia R. M. Broeders) But, does it make the process by which these new foods are made? With this biotechnology many scientist have been able to create tomatoes that last longer on store shelves, soybeans that are resistant to weed killers, potatoes that can produce pesticides, even make glow in the dark fish and puppies. Not all things that happen with GMO's are bad. Scientist are working to make fruits, vegetables, and even grains that are higher in levels of vitamins and nutritional value. There is even talk of vaccines that can fight diseases being produced in food as well. Many people have voiced concerns over food allergies and toxins that may be present in GMO's. At this point in time it is unknown what the health risk are when it comes to consuming genetically altered foods. And, with very few studies that have been performed to find out how these GMO foods effect human health we may never fully know if there is a health risk involved. That is why this lab is important. No matter what position, for or against, a person is for the consumption of GMO foods it is beneficial to all of us to be able to test to see if GMO's are present in the food we eat. To do so we learned about two methods, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, or ELISA, which was not useful in our lab experiment because the foods we were testing were very highly processed and the proteins were most likely destroyed. Instead we used polymerase chain reaction, or PCR to look for DNA sequences that are common in GMO foods. My hypothesis for this experiment was that we would be able to detect GMO's in most if not all of the processed foods that we tested.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
In the first part of the experiment we needed to extract DNA from different food samples. In the second part of the lab we ran PCR reactions to amplify GMO and natural plant...
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