Genetic Modification : Genetically Modified Organisms Essay

Genetic Modification : Genetically Modified Organisms Essay

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Genetic modification is made possible due to the common genetic language of all organisms – DNA. Most of the genetic modifications were done based on this mechanism: a gene that codes a desirable trait is extracted from one organism and inserted into another unrelated organism, and if it is done correctly, the new foreign gene can be read and understood by the gene recipient even if these two species are unrelated. The product of such is then called genetically modified organism, also known as transgenic. For example, Golden Rice is created by transferring beta carotene (vitamin A) producing genes from daffodils to rice, for the purpose of solving vitamin A deficiency – a deficiency that kills over 500,000 people every year (Ye 2000). Similarly, in bacteria, genes that encode proteins that are toxic to insects are inserted into crops such as maize, potatoes, and cotton to eliminate the use of pesticides.

Advancements like these sound almost perfect when most first hear about it, but immediately after its development, many questions were soon raised – global citizens, scientists, government and the media began worrying about the potential side effects that genetic modifications could possibly cause on human health and the environment. Since 1990s where transgenic crops were being publicized, consumer advocacy and environmental activists in European countries such as Germany, France, Switzerland, and Britain fought hard against commercialization of transgenic crops, and such anti-GM trend is getting more and more pervasive in the United States in the recent years (Follett 2001). Although the GM technology has made its progress in fields such as agriculture, medical, industrial and environmental applications, critics of GM product...

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...e circumstances”, is certainly not justified, not to mention when their motive is not backed by any credible evidence.

By 2050, it is predicted that we will have to produce 70% more food than we do now in order to feed the global population – and this is only one of the challenges that we have to face in the future. The debate on the safety of GM products will undoubtedly remain active for some time. Therefore, perhaps additional testing or even regulation may be the compromise that enables us to continue benefit from GM technology. In the midst of the process, what we as part of the global citizen should do is, like Neil Postman once wrote: “when we admit a new technology to the culture, we must do so with our eyes wide open.” We cannot contain the invasion of huge technological changes; yet we may try our best to embrace or discard whatever components we choose.

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