Gmo Research Project Essay

1945 words - 8 pages

Topic: Genetically modified foodsThe World Health Organization (WHO) defines genetically modified (GM) foods as foods that are resulting from organisms whose genetic material has been altered such that it does not occur naturally, e.g. through the insertion of a gene from a different organism (WHO, 2014). The genetically modified organism (GMO) issue has been an area for debate for the past 30 years which resulted in government regulations to deal with genetic modification. Even today people have strong opinions on the topic and there are still concerns whether GM foods are helpful or harmful.GM genes transferred to foods mostly stem from plants and bacteria, however according to the WHO website in 2014, "future foods derived from GM microorganisms or GM animals are likely to be introduced on the market" (WHO, 2014). GM crop plants such as soybean, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, etc., are created for human or animal consumption using biotechnology, where selected traits have been modified. The most common enhanced traits are as follows; improve the yield of crops, to create resistance to plant diseases, increase tolerance of herbicides or improve nutritional content (WHO, 2014). Conventional plant breeding methods would take a very long time or would not even be able to create the desired outcomes GM crops have. Genetic recombination is able to rapidly and accurately create plants with the exact desired trait, like a plant that can produce its own insecticide. Genetic engineering can save millions of dollars due to loses from crops, for example by isolating a gene responsible for drought tolerance (from a plant typically growing in the desert) and inserting this gene in a different plant (e.g. soybean plant). The newly modified soybean plant will gain the drought tolerance ability and will be able to survive during a drought season. The first desired trait to be commercially available was longer shelf life.In 1994 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first genetically modified food to become commercially available. After numerous tests it was decided that the Flavr Savr tomato was approved for human consumption (Martineau & Gresshoff, 1997). The tomato, created by the Californian biotechnology company Calgene, was designed to ripen on the vine and stay firmer and offer a longer shelf life than regular tomatoes. An enzyme, polygalacturonase, causes the cell walls of ripened fruit to degrade, therefore causes the fruit to get soft. In Flavr Savr tomato, the production of the polygalacturonase enzyme is significantly reduced (Martineau & Gresshoff, 1997). This is done by introducing a reverse-orientation copy of the gene, in genetic terms an "antisense" copy, which causes a drastic decrease of the gene. Since these tomatoes could be left to ripen on the vine they are allowed to develop their full flavor. Unmodified tomatoes are picked well before they are ripe and are then ripened artificially by being gassed with ethylene...

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