Genetic Engineering

Topics: Genetic engineering, DNA, Genetically modified food Pages: 5 (1726 words) Published: October 31, 2011
“Genetic Engineering”


This paper is to discuss the pros and cons of genetic engineering. And whether genetic engineering can end world hunger? Keywords: genetic, engineering, crops, pros, cons, world, hunger, technology, altered, tolerated, drought

Genetic engineering the deliberate modification of the characteristics of an organism by manipulating its genetic material (Bensel, 2011). Genetically modified foods (GM foods or GMO foods) are foods derived from genetically modified organisms, (GMOs). Genetically modified organisms have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques. These techniques are much more precise than mutagenesis (mutation breeding) where an organism is exposed to radiation or chemicals to create a non-specific but stable change. Other techniques by which humans modify food organisms include selective breeding; plant breeding, and animal breeding, and somaclonal variation. GM foods were first put on the market in the early 1990s.

Genetic engineering of the human food supply is a highly contentious issue, with credentialed scientists arguing on each side. Most likely the controversy will continue. The effort by biotech companies to genetically modify food will continue to increase and resistance by consumers to genetically modified food will continue to grow. The science of indirectly manipulating an organism's genes using the techniques like molecular cloning and transformation to alter the structure and nature of genes is called genetic engineering. Genetic engineering can bring about a great amount of transformations in the characteristics of an organism by the manipulation of DNA, which is like the code inscribed in every cell determining how it functions (2011). With anything else there are pros and cons to genetic engineering.

Genetic engineering is a valuable new technology that can develop more plentiful and nutritious foods, with great potential benefits for humanity and the environment, and this new scientific discovery needs to be implemented as quickly as possible for humanitarian reasons. As with every new scientific technology, harmful side effects of genetic engineering are inevitable and great care should be taken in its implementation, including carefully controlled long-term tests on human health and environmental impacts. Genetic engineering is a natural extension of traditional breeding; just as   conventional breeding allows us to combine valuable traits within closely related species,   genetic engineering allows scientists to access genes from a broader range of organisms to produce more valuable and productive crops and livestock. Genetic engineering uses artificial laboratory techniques, rather than natural reproductive mechanisms, techniques which breach natural reproductive barriers and combine genes from distant species in ways that could never occur in nature -- suddenly altering genetic patterns that have developed over millions of years, and greatly increasing the likelihood of unanticipated side effects (2011). An example of a food that needed to be engineered due to it causing a possible virus would be the papaya fruit in Hawaii. It is the second most important fruit in Hawaii but Twenty years ago, the entire industry was in danger of being wiped out by a virus called ring spot. Hawaiians had been battling the virus for decades, in fact. Production shifted from the island of Oahu to the main Hawaiian island in the 1960s to escape the spread of the disease, which is transmitted by insects. But in the 1990s, the virus turned up there, too. In just a few years, the country's output of papaya plummeted from 52 million pounds a year to 26 million. Rather than trying to breed a hybrid from different varieties of the fruit, Gonsalves isolated a gene from the ring-spot virus and directly inserted it into a papaya chromosome.

The resulting fruit developed a resistance to ring spot, in much the same way that...

References: UK Government Science Review First Report, Prepared by the GM Science Review panel (July 2003).
Genetic Engineering. 2011. Accessed from Retrieved on 25 September
Genetic Engineering and World Hunger. Accessed from Retrieved on 25 september 2011
The Future of Food: The DNA Solution. 2011. Accessed from
bGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=48846566. Retrieved on 26 September 2011.
Gurdial Singh Nijar, Liability and Compensation in a Biosafety Protocol, Third World Network (228 Macalister Road, 10400 Penang, MALAYSIA), 1997.
Are genetically altered food the answer to world hunger? Accessed from Retrieved on 24 September 2011
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