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Genetically modified organism

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How most people envision GMO taking place in Tomato

Genetically Modified Organism or GMO is defined as "a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified in a laboratory using genetic engineering or transgenic technology". The most common examples include tomatoes, potatoes, lentils, avocado and rice. [1] Genetically Modified Organism are most commonly used today to help farmers develop crops and provide safer methods for their farmland and environment. GMOs are also cheaper for shoppers, and they can even be used in medicine today. However many people have concerns about the safety of GMOs and still debate if it should be labeled on their foods. Genetically Modified Organism is an important topic to talk about as it will be increasingly prevalent in the future. [2]

How to Create GMOs

New formula scientist are using to destroy unwanted plants

Genetically Modified Foods is known by many as a controversial topic, but one aspect that is usually not discussed is how are Genetically Modified Foods produced. This long and complex process can be divided into four steps. The first step is called identifying traits of interest or selection of a desirable characteristic. Scientist need to find what characteristic is desired for the specific crop; For example are they looking to find a long lasting crop, or a crop that is proven to be more beneficial for consumption. The specific type of characteristic desired for these crops determine how the first step is completed. If scientist want to discover how to make a crop survive in a specific environment they look toward certain organisms that already flourish in those environments and closely align them. [3] This aligning takes close examination/research and some luck in order to get it right. One common example was the creation of the "Roundup Plant" after the discovery of a gene that allowed the plant to survive in the presence of herbicide, which are toxic and used for unwanted plants. This Roundup Plant has resulted in farmers not having to till the cropland, instead with the discovery of Round up Crop farmers can spray glysophate. Glysophate formula can be seen in the image and is better for the environment. The determination of the specific characteristic helps scientist discover what affect the crops will have on the environment and humans. [4]

The second step in the production of GMO's is isolating the specific trait scientist discovered in the organism so that it could be used in the new crops. This process would often take a substantial amount of time and energy however the Monsanto engineering department discovered a method now used by scientist called seed chipping. This method cuts of a piece of seed and a specific system compares the plant with the genotype. This system better helps scientist know what genes are going to be planted and possibly discover how those genes can be used in other ways. The third step is inserting the gene into the plant. Many different methods are used to get the gene into the plant tissue. One method used by biotech companies are refereed to as " gene guns" with a .22 caliber charge; these guns shot metal particles into plant tissue. Another method is using a specific bacteria which insert pieces of DNA into the tissue. The final step is growing the GMO's. Scientist then see if they have successfully created a plant with the specific trait they desired. If done successfully they recreate the plants. The production for these GMO's are important for the future and as new technologies are developing, scientist will have increasing opportunities to create new GMO's. [5]

Benefits and risk of GMOs

Benefits GMO have on the croplands

The use of Genetically Modified Foods has many positive affects. According to the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy, "one of the pros of genetically modified crops is a better taste, increased nutrients, resistance to disease and pests, and faster output of crops". [6] GMO can be beneficial to conserve energy and water resources. For example they do not need as much resources and farming equipment to monitor them. This reduces greenhouse gasses and fossil fuels which benefit energy use. GMO's do not require much water to flourish which makes it easy to grow anywhere. The amount of water needed for Corn decreased 53 percent, Cotton decreased by 75 percent, Soy Beans, Rice and Potatoes all saw a combined decrease of 38 percent since the inception of GMO's. For example they can last more longer once harvested which makes it easier for people to receive and eat the food without it going bad. They can help protect cornfields as seen in the picture from other chemical destruction as described before. GMO's can become a crucial method when dealing with the growing number of people and greater demand for food across the world in the coming years. [7]

Along with all the benefits of Genetically Modified Foods there are some downsides. The main risk is what will happen to the health of people who eat it regularly. Many groups such as the Association and World Health Organization believe that GMO's are totally fine for people to consume. On the other hand, The Institute for Responsible Technology fed rats GMO potato's and found that after ten days the rats organs had already been negatively affected. A different study feeding rats with fruit containing both GMO and non GMO came back as normal with no damage to the heart or major organs. The affects of GMO on humans health is still debated by groups and scientist because some believe that results concluded with the rats can not be compared to with humans, but if they do cause serious harm to humans one must ask, is the mass production of food beneficial if you are hurting the health of people all around the world. [8]

Controversy surrounding GMO

Political sign supporting labeling of products

Genetically modified organisms have many benefits and dangers that are debated by people and scientist everyday. A new controversy has now risen in many supermarkets in America and is receiving national attention. The controversy is should foods that are Genetically modified organisms be labeled in their stores. Strong advocates for GMO's state that labels will just be a waste of money and unnecessary, while the other groups are concerned with a certain herbicide that is being sprayed on the organism. Consumers believe they should know what ingredients are being added into their foods as seen in the political sign on the picture. One important factor into the decision being made is what do large food producing companies believe about the addition of labels on their foods. Kraft Heinz and Mondelez International (makers or Oreo Cookies) believe that labeling the products would mislead their customers and state that companies should have the option to label their own foods or not. On the other hand, Campbell Soup was the first company to label all their food productions that contained GMO ingredients. [9]

In the past several years strong advocates for labeling on products have made strides to making it mandatory for all companies. In 2015, 101 bills were passed pertaining to GMO's and of the fifteen passed four had to do with labeling. The following summer in 2016, the National Bio engineering Food Disclosure was passed which established mandatory labeling for foods. During the time no specific rules were made besides the mandatory labeling. Now with a new president foods are still being labeled but with unfamiliar terms, for example, "BE" standing for Bio - Engineered. This raises a question as to why they are afraid to use common language like "GMO" but that is subject to debate. The importance of GMO is seen as major decisions are being decided and debated routinely. [10]

Video

What Are Genetically Modified Foods....

References

  1. What is a GMO nongmoproduct. Web. No Author. Accessed May 14, 2019.
  2. Why do we use GMOs Purdue University. Web. No Author. Accessed May 14, 2019.
  3. Markgraf, Bert How are GMOs Made? Sciencing. Web. Published August 13, 2018.
  4. Powell Chelsea How to make a GMO Harvard edu. Web. Published August 9, 2015.
  5. Boyle, Rebecca How To Genetically Modify a Seed, Step By Step Popular Science. Web. Published January 24,2011.
  6. Vaesa, Janelle Genetically Modified Organisms: Pros and Cons of GMO Food Decoded Science. Web. Published Jan 5, 2013.
  7. Ayres, Crystal 24 Advantages and Disadvantages of GMOs Vittana. Web. Accessed May 8, 2019.
  8. Norris, Megan Will GMOs Hurt My Body? The Public’s Concerns and How Scientists Have Addressed Them Harvard University. Web. Published August 10, 2015.
  9. Trotter, Greg GMO labeling debate puts food industry on defensive ChicagoTribune. Web. Published March 12, 2016.
  10. Gordan, Bridger Food Fight: The Debate over GMOs and Food Labeling HarvardPolitics. Web. Published December 1, 2018.