GMO-Green Revolution

Topics: Genetic engineering, Genetically modified organism, Genetically modified food Pages: 8 (2121 words) Published: April 25, 2014


TITLE: DISCUSSION ESSAY: GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD IS THE NEW 'GREEN REVOLUTION’ WITH ADVANTAGES IN AGRIBUSINESS AND CONSUMERS. GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD IS THE NEW “GREEN REVOLUTION” WITH ADVANTAGES IN AGRIBUSINESS AND CONSUMERS. INTRODUCTION

Genetically modified foods are foods derived from genetically modified plants produced by genetic engineering technology. The technology allows genes to be transferred from one organism into the other and can occur between unrelated species. The genetically modified food therefore contains modified features or characteristics expressed by the new gene. The Genetically modified (GM) food are produced due to their perceived benefits to both the producer and the consumer and has been regarded as the “green revolution” with the potential of solving food insecurity problems affecting the world populations. Global commercialization of GM foods have been on increase with crops being produced on 282.4 million acres between 1994 and 2007 (Batisa, R and Oliveira M, M 2009). Despite this sustained growth of GM crops there have been concerns and controversies surrounding the use and consumption of GM foods and more fundamentally the social issue of acceptance of GM foods by people. This paper seeks to discuss the benefits and risks of the genetically modified foods to agribusiness and the consumers. Benefits of Genetically Modified Foods

Herbicide Tolerance (HT)
This is also called herbicide resistance mainly to glyphosate and glufosinate ammonium introduced in soya, oil seed rape (canola), cotton, maize and sugar beet (Pretty, J) and it is achieve through the introduction of gene from bacterium usually Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that expresses for the herbicide resistance. This allows the producer to apply any broad spectrum herbicide to the crop field to kill weeds without destroying the crop. It allows the farmer to reduce weed pressure off the crop thus getting high yields from the crop production and eventually providing food supply for the growing population. The introduction of herbicide resistant crops has, for example, been found to be more environmentally benign than the weed management technology it replaces, leading to substantial reduction in contamination of ground water, soil and air (Devos, Y et al. 2008 cited in Batisa, R and Oliveira M, M 2009). In addition, transgenic crops have facilitated the adoption of either reduced tillage practices [6] or its abandonment, thus protecting the soil from heat, preserving soil moisture and preventing erosion, which has also led to savings in time, energy, equipment and human labour and, consequently, to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions (Brookes, G. and Barfoot, P. 2006 cited in Batisa, R and Oliveira M, M 2009) Insect resistance

Insect resistance is achieved through introduction into the food plant a gene coding for insecticidal toxin production from Bacillus thurigiensis mainly in maize and cotton. The plant is capable of producing this toxin thus killing all susceptible insects and thereby reduces the application of conventional insecticides. This ensures low cost of production to the farmer and passes this benefit to the final consumer as low cost foods enabling food affordability. Reduced insecticides use also leads to improved health and safety for farmers and farm workers from the reduced handling of pesticides (Pray, C.E. et al. (2002) cited in Batisa, R and Oliveira M, M). It has also resulted in savings in energy and machinery used and in an improvement in crop quality for example, lower levels of mycotoxins (Hammond, B.G. et al. (2004) cited in Batisa, R and Oliveira M, M 2009). Viral Resistance

Virus resistance is achieved through the introduction of a gene from certain viruses which cause disease in plants and this virus resistance makes plants less susceptible to diseases caused by such viruses, resulting in higher crop yields (WHO). Higher crop yields results in good returns to...


References: Batista, R and Oliveira, MM 2009, ‘Facts and fiction of genetically engineered food’, Trends in Biotechnology, vol. 27, no. 5. pp 277-286. Available from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167779909000511 [25 March 2009]
Food and Agriculture Organization 2003, Weighing GMOs arguments Against. Available from: http://www.fao.org/english/newsroom/focus/2003/gmo8.htm
Monsanto, Do GM Crops increase Yield. Available from: http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/do-gm-crops-increase-yield.aspx
Pretty, J 2001,‘The rapid emergence of genetic modification in world agriculture: contested risks and benefits,’ Environmental Conservation, vol. 28. No. 3. pp 248-262. Available at http://www.cof.orst.edu/cof/teach/agbio/2004/materials/1BSTATUS/Environ_Conserv_emergence of GE in world ag.pdf [11 May 2001]
World Health Organization, 20 Questions on GM foods. Available from: http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/biotech/20questions/en/
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