The Pros and Cons of Genetically Modified Crops

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For thousands of years, humans have transformed their surroundings and neighboring organisms to suit their needs. The transformation first took place when humans spread seeds onto the earth to grow their own food, and continued when humans reached out to provide food and shelter to other animals in exchange for labor, companionship and sustenance. When early agriculture proved successful, the best and strongest animals and crops were chosen for the next generation. This was the dawn of genetic modification, and it is as old as agriculture itself. When speaking about genetically modified or genetically engineered organisms, an important distinction must be made. This new breed of technology does not use traditional means of gene selection where similar organisms are cross-bred, or where random mutations are used to create a new variety of crop. Genetic engineering technology relies on decoding the DNA of an organism and making delicate adjustments to single genes within a sequence. In many cases, genetic material from vastly different organisms are inserted into the genome of another to produce desired traits. Less than two decades ago, this technology was a controversy that was still in its early stages of development. Today, genetically-modified (GM) crops account for a majority of many crops grown in the United States. GM crops are regarded as one of the most successful commercial applications of transgenic biotechnology (Powell, et al., 2009) and the most widely adopted varieties are those that provide herbicide-tolerance and insect-resistance (USDA, 2009). Although the United States Food and Drug Administration has established that the food produced with this new technology is considered “substantially equiv... ... middle of paper ... ... 1 July 2009. Viewed: 12 June 2010. Ford, Brian J. 2004. GM Crops: Balancing Risks and Benefits. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews. 29 (2): 114-117. Kessler, David A. Statement of Policy - Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties. [http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/GuidanceDocuments/Biotechnology/ucm096095.htm]. Updated: 2 Apr. 1992. Viewed: 12 June 2010. Powell, Jeff R., David J. Levy-Booth, Robert H. Gulden, and Wendy L. Asbil. 2009. Effects of Genetically Modified, Herbicide-tolerant Crops and Their Management on Soil Food Web Properties and Crop Litter Decomposition. Journal of Applied Ecology 46: 388-96. Zhang, J. H., C. Z. Wang, J. D. Qin, and S. D. Guo. 2004. Feeding Behaviour of Helicoverpa armigera Larvae on Insect-resistant Transgenic Cotton and Non-transgenic Cotton. Journal of Applied Entomology 128: 218-2

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