Genetically modified organisms essay
What are your views on GMO's?
A GMO is an organism whose genetic makeup is changed by humans. A genetically modified organism (GMO) is a plant, animal or microorganism whose genetic code has been altered, subtracted, or added (either from the same species or a different species) in order to give it characteristics that it does not have normally.
A GMO is created when DNA from one organism is combined with another organism’s DNA to make one molecule. Scientists do this by cutting and joining DNA from different sources. This forms a new set of genes. They then transfer it into the organism so it has the modified genes. (http://www.i-sis.org.uk/FAQ.php, 11/30/09) With genetic engineering they can make bigger and more nutritious fruit and vegetables. Human embryos can be genetically modified in case it might have a chance of having a disease. If breast cancer is commonly found in a family the scientists can engineer the embryo so that it does not receive that trait. Trees and fruits that are genetically modified can be grown so that pesticides grow naturally in them. Sometimes scientists do not have enough of a material to use it in the lab so they use Bacterial Transformation. There are five steps of Bacterial Transformation. The first step is competency which is preparing the bacterial cells to receive DNA. This step is getting the pores to open up so they allow the genes needed to be put in. Step two is transformation in which pGLO genes (a gene from jellyfish that glows green) are inserted via the pores. Step three is growth in which the substance is just growing, eating, and reproducing. The fourth step is isolation in which you separate the newly transformed cells from the entire population of untransformed cells. Finally, step five is expression which is the phenotypic expression in which arabinose is needed to allow the gene to transcribe and make Green Fluorescent protein (GFP). The arabinose is an on and off switch for the Green fluorescent protein. (In class worksheet, 11/30/09). Scientific and social arguments and evidence in support of my topic GMOs can benefit the world in many ways. They can provide more vegetables and fruits compared to non GMOs. (Clarice Swisher, 11/30/09, p.43). Selective breeding was the earliest form of genetic engineering in which farmers would pick the biggest or best looking crops and breed them together to produce better and bigger crops. Also scientists sometimes bred different plants together to create an even better plant. This developed plant is called a hybrid. (Ron Fridell, 11/30, 09, p. 11-12) Genetically modifying crops is beneficial to humans because they can provide more food while saving money. Some crops are modified to be resistant to viruses such as corn. Others crops such as cotton can be resistant to pests. These modifications create a large advantage over other non GM plants. Some cotton in India was modified so that it grew its own pesticide and it also greatly increased the yield of the cotton. (http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/genetically_modified_cotton_crops_produced_greater _yields_reduced_pesticide_use, 11/30/09). Genetic engineering is good because it can help stop deadly diseases from occurring in the human body. (Ron Fridell, 12/1/09, p.28-29). A genome holds the instructions for making your body and keeping your body running. Since the genome has more than twenty thousand genes everyone has some genes that do not work which are called faulty genes. These faulty genes show up more and more often as you get older. But sometimes when a genome is getting copied something goes wrong which is called a mutation. Most mutations are harmless and sometimes they actually help your body. But there are also harmful mutations which cause deadly diseases. One mutation that could happen is SCID which is a condition in which people are unable to fight off ordinary colds and other infections. These infections can kill them. (Ron Fridell, 12/1/09, p.28-29). But there is a way to cure these diseases. Scientists use genetic engineering to repair faulty genes so these mutations do not occur. Scientists do this by replacing the damaged genes with healthy ones. Scientists can use viruses for delivering genes into your body. They disable the part of the virus that makes you sick and replace it with the healthy gene which then gets delivered to where it needs to go. (Ron Fridell, 12/1/09, p.30) Scientists have genetically modified animals as well in many ways which help produce a lot more food. Catfish have been modified so they grow all year round instead of just in the summer. By this happening farmers can breed and sell more catfish in a shorter amount of time. (Ron Fridell, 12/1/09, p.21). Also salmon have been engineered so they grow a lot larger than normal to provide more meat. These transgenic salmon create a lot more meat in the time normal salmon create less meat. Also there are cows that have been engineered so that they make several different kinds of milk. They can produce milk that is more easily digested by people who are lactose intolerant and milk with a longer shelf life. Also scientists can engineer cows that produce milk with a lower amount of fat so that it makes better cheese. This helps provide more food because people who where not previously able to drink milk now can and it also lasts longer as it will not spoil as quickly as normal milk. (http://www.geneticsandsociety.org/article. php?id=386, 12/1/09). Scientists have also found a way to save money and protect crops at the same time. Because pesticides cost a lot to buy and it takes time to spray the pesticides, scientists have figured out how to grow corn with built in pesticides. This saves labor costs and plants can protect themselves without affecting the environment. Scientists found a bacteria called BT that can kill corn borers. Scientists took genomes from this bacteria and made copies of it and moved the gene into the corn using a gene gun. When the gene was in the crop cells it became part of the DNA so when the corn grew it was resistant to pests. When the borers tried to eat the corn they died. (Ron Fridell, 12/1/09, p.14). Another similar case happened with papayas in which a deadly virus started to kill papaya trees. Genetic engineers created a vaccine and made the gene part of the papaya’s DNA. (http://www.i-sis.org.uk/PapayaAllergy.php, 12/2/09) Scientific and social arguments and evidence in opposition of my topic There are also some bad things about genetically modified organisms that can have negative affects on the environment, people, and animals. Genetically modified crops can be bad because they mix with normal crops. This happens through pollination and the normal crop can gain the traits of the genetically modified crops. If a non genetically modified crop gets converted into a genetically modified crop then that new crop belongs to the owner of the genetically modified crops. Monsanto, a company that genetically modified crops, took up a lawsuit against a man who had their crops on his land without their permission. Monsanto found out about this when a man’s canola built up immunity to Round Up. They gave him the option of paying a large fine or destroying all of his crops. This ruined his life’s work because he destroyed all of the crops he had stored. But this man was not even to blame. Seeds flew out of a truck carrying genetically modified seeds on a nearby road. These seeds then grew and converted the man’s normal crop into a genetically modified crop. Monsanto has sent letters to 9,000 farmers concerning similar stories of farmers growing Monsanto’s patented crops. (Future of food video, Deborah Koons). Genetically modified organisms can be bad because they have negative effects on humans. Some genetically modified foods can slip through the government food process. People can not be sure whether they will have allergic reactions because of the low level purification process. (http://hubpages.com, 12/2/09). Throughout 1994-2001, which is when genetically modified foods flooded the market, food related deaths doubled. (Jeffrey Smith’s research, 1994-2001, http://www.naturalhealthstrategies.com/dangerous-genetically-modified-foods.html). Modified crops can cause problems for people with allergies because people have no idea of knowing what genes have been transferred into the food. New allergies could be formed because the new foods have a different genetic makeup. Also food eaten could transfer the genes from the food into your body. If a plant has genes that were antibiotic resistant then your body might receive those genes. If that was to happen and your body got sick, you could become antibiotic resistant and you could not be helped. (http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/06/04/12/are-genetically-modified-gm-foods-dangerous-the-essentials-on-both-sides-of-the-debate.htm, 12/2/09). Animals can die because of pesticides that are grown in genetically modified plants. Scientists have made crops that grow the pesticides in them because pesticides are expensive to buy. This is bad because if an animal was to eat that part of the plant before the pesticides have grown out, the animal could die or be poisoned from it. When Biotech firms claim they offer a genetically modified pest-resistant crop it normally means the crop contains its own built-in pesticide. So eating a GM plant if you’re an animal or a human means that you are ingesting toxic pesticides. Studies happened in the 1990’s involving rats and genetically modified tomatoes. When the rats were offered the genetically modified tomatoes they refused to eat them, so they were force fed. Within two weeks, seven of forty rats died and many more rats developed stomach lesions. This study proved that genetically modified food is not safe and that more tests should be taking place for the general safety of humans. (http://www.wanttoknow.info/gmoinyour food, 12/2/09. Even though genetically modified organisms are supposed to help create more food they can end up creating less food and more starvation. This is possible because of the terminator crops. Terminator crops are crops that have suicide genes in their makeup so farmers cannot save the seeds to plant next season therefore making farmers buy new crops every season. If non terminator crops were pollinated then it would ruin that harvest for the farmer because next year his crops would not grow. The owner of the terminator gene is the United States Government and nothing is being done about that gene. (Future of Foods video, Deborah Koons). Monsanto agreed not to sell the terminator seeds because of a protest, but they never agreed to stop growing the seeds. (Jay D. Gralla and Preston Gralla, 12/3/09, p.295). Personal Opinion The outcome over the debate of GMO’s is going to change the future of humans either for good or for bad. I do not agree with GMO’s being made and used because they can have negative affects on humans and animals. Animals can be poisoned and even killed from pesticides that grow in genetically modified plants. Also they are dangerous because people can be allergic to food produced because there are not very strict guidelines. When people buy food, they do not have any idea if the product they are buying is genetically modified. It is not necessary to be listed on packaging. Lastly, genetically modified crops can ruin a farmer’s job because of the terminator gene. If the terminator gene was to be released no seeds could be reused causing the farmer great expense to continue his business. I think more study should be done before GMOs are allowed into the market and once they are approved there needs to be strict ongoing supervision over time to check if there are any side affects. I think currently scientists do not know enough about GMOs and might end up doing more harm than good. Conclusion Genetically modified organisms have their good and bad points. They can produce more food and provide many benefits to humans. But they can also be detrimental if not used properly. They can mix with non genetically modified crops and ruin a farmers business. Pesticides in plants can be a great benefit but they can damage the environment and be poisonous to the consumer. There is a lot of conflict over whether genetically modified organisms are good or bad for us and there is no way to know until either something really good or something really bad comes out of it.