Genetic Engineering in Agriculture

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Genetic Engineering in Agriculture Among the millions of species that inhabit the planet, only twenty species provide ninety percent of the human food supply (Montgomery 2000). Since the introduction of genetic engineering, however, livestock and crops have a more productive future. Transfer of engineered genes from organism to organism occurs through hybridization, conjugation, and transformation in microorganisms. By the substitution of genes into agricultural species, biodiversity can flourish to improve social and economic development. Although methods of gene and DNA implantation quickly develop advanced products, even precise genetic alterations do not ensure that the environment will remain balanced or that changes in the genome will not occur. With careful design and a good understanding of transgenic organisms, minimal ecological and social risks will occur with the development of genetically engineered organisms. Background To improve methods of plant breeding, farmers turn to the hybridization of genes. New genes from wild species are transferred into cultivated varieties of similar crops to attain desired traits. Specific properties such as disease resistance, stress tolerance, and nutritional qualities are advantageous to the farmer because more time is spent on cultivation rather than outside interferences. However, crossbreeding results in mass amounts of genes transferring to the plant recipient, only a few of which are desired. Thus, only sexually compatible species of the crop can be used to breed (Horsch 1993). Farmers using crossbreeding and hybridizing methods are able to attain improved products, but could cause great damage to the genome in the transfer of unknown, undesired genes (Geweke... ... middle of paper ... ... Benefits. (2000, November 27). Pollan, M. (1998, October 25). Playing god in the Garden. New York Times Sunday Magazine. 12-19. Reaka-Kudla, M.L. et al. (Eds.). (1997). Biodiversity II: understanding and protecting our Biological Resources. Washington, D.C.: Joseph Henry Press. Regal, P.J. (1996). Metaphysics in Genetic Engineering: cryptic philosophy and ideology in "Science" of risk. In Dommelen, A.V. (Ed.). Coping with deliberate release: the limits of Risk Assessment (pp. 15-32). Buenos Aires: Tilburg. Rissler, J. & Mellon, M. (1996). The ecological risks of Engineered Crops. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. Rudolph, F.B. & McIntire, L.V. (Eds.). (1996). Biotechnology. Washington, D.C.: Joseph Henry Press. Wright, S. (1996). Splicing away regulations down on the Animal Pharm (Technical Paper). Michigan: The Nation Company, University of Michigan.
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