Genetically Modified Organisms:
The Benefits, the Risks, and the Controversy
Every time you step into a grocery store, you are surrounded by genetically modified food. Whether it’s a head of lettuce, or a chicken breast; unless you buy it with an organic label, it’s most likely genetically modified. Genetically modified organisms are defined as an organism whose characteristics have been altered using the techniques of genetic engineering. (Add Citation). The general principle of genetically modified organisms is to alter genetics on an organism’s genome. This is done by adding, deleting or mutating genetic material.(Add Citation). Adding DNA to an organism results in recombinant DNA. Recombinant DNA aresequences that result from the use of laboratory methods to bring together genetic material from other organisms, creating sequences that would not be found in biological organisms. The first recombinant model was created by Paul Berg. (Add Citation.) This paper will discuss the benefits, the risks and the controversy of genetically modified organisms.
In the 1980’s, it was discovered that pieces of one organism’s DNA could be transferred to another’s DNA. The first transgenic (genetically modified) plant was created in 1983. It was a tobacco plant that resisted antibiotics. Later in 1995, a now-major GMO producer, Monsanto, introduced a genetically modified soy bean seed, which was immune to herbicide. It wasn’t until 2000 that it was discovered to be possible to add nutrients and vitamins to enrich genetically modified foods. (Add Citation.) By 2004, genetically modified crops were being grown by 8.25 million farmers in 17 different countries. The United States are the leading country for advancement of biotechnology, accounting for 59% of all genetically modified crops.These crops quietly made their way into the US food industry. (Add Citation.) In 2012, 93% of soybean crops were genetically modified, and 88% of corn was genetically modified in the United States. That same year, 97.5% of canola crops were genetically modified, too. Genetically modified foods are usually created to resist disease and eliminate the need for pesticides. Scientists usually choose traits in order to create what they call super foods. Most foods in Canada contain some type of genetically modified food. (Add Citation.) Before genetically modified food is sold in Canada, Health Canada is required to check foods to make sure it’s safe to eat. It is not mandatory for companies in North America to label food that has genetically modified ingredients due to the fact that so many basic ingredients are genetically modified. However, it is mandatory to label GMOs in Europe. (Add Citation.)
BENEFITS OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS
There are a number of different benefits in genetically modifying crops. For example, most of these crops are pest resistant. Farmers usually use a ton of pesticideseach year, and most of these chemicals are dangerous to humans. Then the pesticides get washed off in the rain into rivers and lakes which is harmful to the water supply. By making crops pest resistant, scientists are subtracting these harmful chemicals from our food. Also, plants are introduced to new herbicides all the time, and sometimes the plants die from these herbicides. Scientists have made a way to genetically modify plants so that they are tolerable to herbicides. The herbicides that farmers use are expensive, harmful to the environment and time consuming, too. Genetically modified products are created to not be affected by herbicides, which reduces costs and limits the run off of dangerous agricultural waste. Scientists are also working to create a gene that makes plants resistant to diseases. Another benefit is that scientists have created an anti-freeze gene taken from cold water fish that is inserted into plants to...
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