GMO Final Essay

GMOs have been and still are a very controversial topic throughout the world. There are many misunderstandings on what a GMO is: many people believe that anything manipulated or changed by people falls into this category. [1] This is in fact not the case, as the US Food and Drug Administration states that an organism must be directly manipulated to be a GMO. [1] Some people believe that the benefits, such as resistance to pests, outweigh the risks, but others believe that GMOs are too greatly affecting the environment to continue using them. [1] Many people believe that GMOs are used only in plants, but this is not the case. There have been some GMOs that were produced to break down plastics, and even to create edible vaccines. [2] This being said, most GMOs are used for crops such as corn, cotton, soybeans, canola, and potatoes. [1] 

GMOs can be made in various ways, some methods being more common than other. Most often, the gene responsible for the trait of interest is isolated using comparative analysis, a method in which they compare an organism with the trait to another organism, of the same species, without the trait. [1] They then proceed to find the gene present in the desired organism. [1] The desirable gene is then inserted into cells of another organism using a gene transfer tool, most commonly a plasmid from soil bacterium. [3] Once this is done, the cells are exposed to the weakness that is being ‘fixed’ to sort the cells that were able to pick of the genes from those who weren’t. [3] They are then verified to see if the new gene has been properly inserted by conducting different series of tests. [3] The new crop is planted and offers numerous benefits, such as an increase in crop production and resistance to herbicides. [2] GMOs are widely used in poorer countries to support the growing population with their increase in crop production and nutrients. [4] A system, called CRISPR, is offering a promising future for GMOs as it makes gene editing much simpler and faster. [4] It has many advantages over other methods of gene editing because of its accessibility and low cost. [4]

Despite this promising future, GMOs have many impacts, both good and bad. Superweeds have been created by adapting to the excess of pesticides being used on pesticide resistant GMOs. [5] Transgenes can also be transferred to non-GM species, which means that organisms that were not meant to carry the modified gene are now genetically modified. [5] We have created bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics because of our elevated use of these products. [6] GMOs have also indirectly caused health problems: one example of this is a situation in Kaua’i, Hawaii, where some chemical countries were not following regulations. [5] The pesticides that were being sprayed on the pesticide resistant crops were causing effects such as brain damage and Parkinson’s disease. [5] GMOs have also greatly benefited agriculture: some GMOs have been modified to withstand environmental stressors, can mature more quickly, enhance the productivity of crops, and have increased the income for farmers. [7]

There are multiple ways to counter the negative effects of GMOs. Farmers can start planting more diverse crops to stabilize the farm and make it more resistant to droughts, pests, and other factors. [8] They can also rotate their crops to protect crops from pests as rotating crops interrupts their life cycle, as opposed to giving them a steady food supply when they plant the same crop year after year. [8] Another option is to plant cover crops in between cropping periods such as alfalfa or clover to prevent soil erosion, retain the moisture, suppress weeds, provide nitrogen, and improve soil texture. [8] The need for fertilizers and pesticides may also be eliminated if the right cover crops are planted. [8] Some farmers also keep pests away by making their farm an attractive environment for their natural predators, such as birds and insects. [8] Finally, keeping food waste to a minimum may also help reduce GMOs that increase crop production, as 40% of food is wasted in US alone. [9]

Despite the negative effects that GMOs have in the world, they can also bring lots of good. There is still a use for GMOs in the world, though they should still be monitored and researched to further our understanding of the topic to be able to use them to their full potential while respecting the environment and peoples’ beliefs. We should not completely abandon the ‘old’ way of farming; it has worked for thousands of years, and will continue to do so. GMOs can continue to be an important part of our society, but it needs to be better understood by all to be fully accepted. 

References: 

1.https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/how-to-make-a-gmo/

2.https://www.britannica.com/science/genetically-modified-organism/GMOs-in-medicine-and-research

3.http://nepad-abne.net/biotechnology/process-of-developing-genetically-modified-gm-crops/

4.Jiang, L. (2020). Commercialization of the gene-edited crop and morality: challenges from the liberal patent law and the strict GMO law in the EU. New Genetics & Society, 39(2), 191–218. https://doi.org/10.1080/14636778.2019.1686968

5.https://earthjustice.org/features/engineering-an-environmental-disaster-2

6.http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.684.2271&rep=rep1&type=pdf

7.Sánchez-Paniagua López, M., Manzanares-Palenzuela, C. L., & López-Ruiz, B. (2018). Biosensors for GMO Testing: Nearly 25 Years of Research. Critical Reviews in Analytical Chemistry, 48(5), 391–405. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408347.2018.1442708

8.https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/Better_Way_of_Doing_Things_Alternatives_to_Gen.pdf

9.https://www.greenamerica.org/gmos-stop-ge-wheat/genetic-engineering-gmos/gmos-dont-feed-world

2 Replies to “GMO Final Essay”

  1. Hey Tamami
    I loved your post on GMOs. I personally love them! I keep a collection of them in my bedroom, in a shoebox under my bed. Sometimes they come out at night because of how modified they are. Don’t tell the government. It’s going to be our little secret. 😉 So informative!
    -Aleah

  2. Hi Tamami,
    Your topic is interesting! I’ve heard many people talk about GMO’s, but I never really understood what they were. Your post was really easy to understand, and clarified me a lot of questions about the negative and positive impacts they have. Great research!

    Sofia B.

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