Causes and Effects of Genetic Engineering of Animals and Plants

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Have you ever wondered how those Thanksgiving turkeys get to be so big and plump? How about those delicious fruits and vegetables? What helps them stay so fresh even after leaving the supermarket? The answer could quite possibly be genetic engineering. Years of crossbreeding various breeds of farm animals have led to many new breeds bearing traits that they would not have otherwise. Researchers have even developed techniques that make it possible to directly alter the genes of different crops. There are causes and effects of genetic engineering in animals and plants.
With the population of Earth growing at a constant rate, food is becoming more and more scarce. While the effects of this are not as pronounced in many parts of the world, harsh environments and lack of development in some societies has made it difficult to raise animals for food purposes. While in other parts of the world, specific meat demands are ever-changing. To meet these demands, farmers must find ways to breed livestock that possess certain traits (“Origins”). There is also a growing need for food with a longer shelf life so it can last longer before going bad. Since the population is on a steady rise, there has also been a demand for animals that are capable of reaching market weight in a shorter amount of time (“Genetically”). Through crossbreeding and years of research, genetic engineering has helped find solutions for many of these problems.
While genetic engineering is normally associated with laboratories and advanced technologies, farmers usually gain desired traits from their animals through some of the more primitive forms of genetic engineering: crossbreeding and inbreeding. During the Twentieth Century, market demand became the key factor in d...

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...the Hereford and Shorthorn. The main points of this particular breed were fertility, weight, hardiness, and milk production (“Origins”). Not all farmers work on land though, fish farmers also have their own set of problems that can be solved through more advanced methods of genetic engineering. Some companies have begun development of ways to genetically modify fish so that they can reach market weight more quickly. This would help reduce the amount of time fish farmers would have to spend tending to them before sending them out to market. Another approach being taken is raising their fish to inland saltwater facilities in order to reduce the chances of pollution and disease, as well as unplanned breeding with wild fish that might wander into an ocean farm (Zajac). The fruit and vegetable industries also face some of the issues that the meat industry must address.
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