Benefits And Risks Of Genetically Modified Crops Essay

Benefits And Risks Of Genetically Modified Crops Essay

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Genetically modified crops, GMs have attracted controversy in the recent years particularly due to the lack of adequate information concerning GMs as well as the benefits and risks associated with the technology. However, since the first generation of genetically modified crops, there have emerged two areas of concern with regard to the risks the crops pose to both the human life and the environment. This paper thus seeks to define genetically modified crops, question the reason for making GMs and weigh the benefits against the risks.
GM crops
GMs, also known as transgenic crops are plants that involve a combination of genetic material obtained through modern biotechnology. They are made using a combination of artificially-inserted genes rather than the normal process of pollination. This is done using the gene gun and bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens technologies. The Agrobacterium tumefaciens is naturally able to transfer DNA to the crops to introduce genes of choice to the plant while the gene gun shoots microscopic particles coated with DNA into the crop cells. Ideally, scientists target individual genes that are replicated throughout the crop using tissue culture techniques once the genes are introduced into the plant DNA.
Selectable markers are used to confer genes, for instance, antibiotic resistance, which would otherwise kill normal non-genetically modified crops, such as kanamycin. These genes are co-transferred with the genes of interest to provide for a regeneration of GMs and discriminate GM tissue. The antibiotic resistant genes are initially isolated from bacteria although there are very low chances of transmitting the antibiotic resistance from crops to bacteria. The opponents of GMS claim that GMs carry more mu...

... middle of paper ... potential ecological impact.
There is a concern that over usage off a single pesticide and insecticide on GMs may lead to pesticide-resistant insects and weeds that attack the crops. There is a concern over transgenes escaping into wild relatives from cultivated crops. There is also a risk of toxins affecting non-target crops as well as the danger of introducing anti-nutrition factors and allergens in foods. Further, there is a risk of widening the economic gap between nations who use and that which do not use biotechnology.
Although there are uncertainties over genetically modified crops, it is apparent that this technology has the potential to produce economically sound crop varieties. The risks raised are, however, too valuable to ignore but if scientists can work to resolve such issues then world hunger and malnutrition would be a thing of the past.

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