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Genetically Modified Organisms: Modifying The World’s Industries

1273 words - 5 pages

The founding of genetically modified organisms was extended through the course of many years. It began in 1865 when Gregor Mendel observed hereditary characteristics in pea plants. Nearly forty years later, Andrei Nikolaevitch Belozersky was the first person to isolate DNA, or “factors”, as Mendel defined it, in its pure state (Life Sciences Foundation, Purification of DNA). This revelation sparked the start to DNA innovations. After the discovery of DNA’s structure by Watson and Crick, scientists continued to crack the code, and DNA modification became possible when Professor Herbert Boyer created recombinant DNA (Chemical Heritage Foundation, Paul Berg, Herbert W. Boyer, and Stanley N. Cohen). He was able to create recombinant DNA by splicing the desired trait and inserting it into a cloning vector which would allow the gene to be transferred and expressed in organisms (HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology, How are GMOs Made?). He continued this work with Keiichi Itakura, a scientist at City of Hope Medical Center, to create the first genetically modified organism. Their creation of “a plasmid that coded for human insulin” called Humulin would soon be sweeping the world with many concerns (Chemical Heritage Foundation, Paul Berg, Herbert W. Boyer, and Stanley N. Cohen). Although it has been debated about widespread health concerns, the production of genetically modified organisms does not impose health risks, but it increases benefits for the agricultural industry, medical field, and economy.
The agricultural industry faces the greatest amount of benefits. Genetically modified organisms enable farmers to produce crops that are resistant to weather conditions. Specifically, genes from the Arabidopsis, a flowering plant related to the cabbage, have been isolated and introduced into crops to increase cold, drought, and salt tolerance (qtd. in ISAAA, Genetic Engineering of Drought Tolerant Plants). These GMO crops allow a farmer to plant crops during all seasons to increase yields. Also, with GMO technology, it is possible to create organisms that are chemical resistant. Non-GMO crops require the use of pesticides or herbicides; however, this is damaging to the environment. A study at the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute has shown that the recurring use of pesticides causes soil contamination and DNA strands to break (Krishnamurthi, Saravana Devi, and Chakrabarti, 429). Continually planting GMOs can cause a decrease in chemical damage. Julia M. Diaz and Judith L. Fridovich-Keil state that “the application of wide-spectrum insecticides declined in many areas growing plants that were endowed with a gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, which produces a natural insecticide called Bt toxin” (GMOs in Agriculture).
Although it is debated that GMOs causes DNA altercations, genetic engineering has health benefits. The technique of separating a protein to insert in an organism is emerging in the medical field. The first...

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