Genetically Modified Organisms and Food

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The term GMO or Genetically Modified Organism refers to an individual form of life in which the genome is changed or modified through genetic engineering. In other words, the DNA from an organism is modified in a laboratory and then inserted into another organism’s genome for the purpose of producing positive traits that would be useful, creating a new organism. This science of genetic manipulation has been utilized for many different purposes. One important area in which it is controversial is agriculture. Specific issues regarding this technology involve human and environmental safety as well as ethical and conservation concerns.

A common example of a GMO plant would be Monsanto’s Roundup® Ready Corn. One of the methods the Monsanto Company genetically engineers this plant is through soil bacterial and E.coli bacteria. After several years of research, Monsanto discovered a specific soil bacterium which was naturally immune to Roundup® herbicide. The next step in their process was to genetically engineer this bacteria’s DNA into various plants so they, too, could be Roundup® resistant or ‘Roundup® Ready’. This is important because Roundup® herbicide kills all types of plants, weeds and crops alike. Engineers cut out the sequence of DNA from the soil bacteria which is resistant to Roundup®. If this DNA sequence alone is applied to the corn plant it will have no effect. The next step involves E.coli bacteria. Gaps are created in the E.coli DNA and when the soil bacteria and E.coli are introduced to one another some of the E.coli DNA recombines with the Roundup® resistant bacteria. Then, the bio technician smuggles the engineered DNA into the cells of the corn plant they want to modify. Cells will naturally reject foreign DNA so th...

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