GMO IN Food and Agriculture
Genetically Modified foods are produced using genetically engineering techniques. These techniques are used to ‘inactivate’ or add specific DNA traits of a certain organism to the other in order to improve it. These traits consist of increasing resistance against herbicides and pest, cold, and drought tolerance. In 1946, scientist discovered that DNA of organisms could be transferred between each other. The first plant that was GM was a tobacco plant in 1983. By 1994-95, GMO food was introduced and approved for humans to consume in the USA. The first plant approved by the FDA for marketing was a tomato from Flavr Savr’s. However, humans have been manipulating different crops for thousands of years. By mating together organisms with desirable traits repeatedly, people were able to mold species to meet their dietary needs. Corn is a very good example of this. It used to be a small, inedible tropical grass called teosinte. Ancient Mexican farmers transformed it into corn. Nowadays, we know this was a manipulation of the DNA of the teosinte plant. This process is called artificial selection and it has transformed all kind of unappetizing plants edible (wheat, rice, almonds, bananas). In modern days genetically modified foods have changed. Now, the speed and precision we can make changes has increased. According to Eric R. Olson, Scientific American editor explains, instead of selectively breading food traits, we can go directly to the DNA responsible take it out, and transplant it into newly developing plants or animals. When these snippets come from the same species, the new organism is cisgenic (the same). And the organism is transgenic (trans=cross) if the DNA comes from a different plant or animal. For the past years we have seen example of transgenic pairings, such as: corn that makes bacterial toxins poisonous to pests, tomatoes that make the antifreeze protein from fish and even cows that can make human milk. All the GM food on the market have been processed and tested. GMO has become popular for the past years, due to the increase in crops, improving many problems in the worlds such as world hunger. The world’s population has reached about 7 billion people and is predicted to double within the years. Providing people with food will be very challenging. Even nowadays, people around the world, principally third world countries, are starving and are affected and malnourished. In places like Africa, where the weather is extremely hot, the possibility of drought is high. The soil is affected rather negatively, killing many crops and preventing the harvest of new ones. Another factor that decreases the amount of food within the people are insect pests. To solve this problem, farmers could apply pesticides to their crops; however, many people are concerned with the health effect and don’t use them. In addition, in third world countries most people rely on one crop to feed themselves, e.g. rice. But, this crop does not contain all vitamins necessary for a balanced and healthy diet. Without an effective solution to world hunger and malnutrition, the rate of starvation will increase and become extremely high, including the deaths of many people and therefore there would be an effect on the economy in many countries, causing food prices to go higher and later increasing poverty and other problems within our society. The problem does not only surround developing countries, according to CNN, in industrial countries such as the US, 40 percent of all food is destroyed rather than eaten. This is due to problems within transportation facility storage of the harvest. Nevertheless, how can GMO be used to solve or help improve world hunger? As mentioned previously, the concern on the utilization of pesticides is very high. Though, there are many GM foods such as B.t corn that contain resistance against various pests, meaning with the harvest of b.t corn, there will be no need for the application of...
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