GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROP PLANTS 6
GeneticallyModified Crop Plants
Thedebate about the safety of genetically modified food has been on foran extended period. Besides, a lot of money and time has been used bythe researchers, biotechnology companies, and states as they try tomake people understand what genetically modified plants are as wellas convincing citizens that the crop plants are safe for human andanimal consumption.
Geneticmodification is a technology in which the researchers take genes fromone organism, and those genes are put in another plant (Starr et al.,2013). Genes refer to a set of instructions in a body that determineshow the living creature will develop and grow. These characteristicsare stored in a DNA. Therefore, genetically modified crops usuallycontain genes from other related plants, and these genes alter thequalities of the new crop as well as the way it develops and grows.Engineering of plants mainly aims at improving taste, plant’sability to resist disease, and increasing the yields through theproduction of fruits that have a significant size.
Inthe making of a genetically modified plant, a unique DNA is insertedinto the plant cells, and the cells are later grown into tissues(Starr et al., 2013). New plants are then developed from thesetissues. The new crops produced possess the desired characteristics,and their seeds will be containing the new DNA. Qualities of a livingorganism such as plants are influenced by the interaction between thegenetic makeup of a crop and the environment. DNA is responsible forprotein synthesis that determines the characteristics of a plant(Starr et al., 2013). For example, the type of flowers that a plantproduce is determined by the DNA that has commands for synthesizingproteins involved in producing color pigments. The transfer of DNAfrom one plant to another can be done using various methods. However,the most common methods are the use of a metal particle or virusesand bacteria. The metal can be covered with the desired DNA fragmentand then the genes are transferred to another plant. Also, the genesof interest can be moved into a bacterium and later the cells of thisparticular bacterium are transferred to the genome of the crop formodification. Genetic modification is attainable because a singleplant cell is capable of creating a new crop with better qualitiesthan the original plant.
Socialand Ethical Implications of Genetically Modified Crops Plants
Acceptabilityof genetically modified crops will mainly depend on how the welfareof people, especially the consumers is affected. If the demerits aremore than the benefits, then these crops will be sociallydisadvantageous and unethical at the same time (Starr et al., 2011).Genetically modified crops can also interfere with the freedom ofconsumers when choosing what to consume. For instance, if thegovernment passes a law that allows farmers to grow the improvedplants, the supply of foodstuffs especially the grains will beaffected. Genetically modified foods such as maize will flood thelocal markets leaving consumers with no choice but consume what isavailable. In this regard, most people will be eating what they didnot intend to. Besides, the costs and benefits of biotechnologyaffect the wealthy and poor differently which raises an alarm on thejustice issues (Starr et al., 2013). The poor will be forced toconsume what they regard as unnatural due to their economic status,but the well-off people will have the purchasing power to acquire thetype of food that they want. Besides, some people argue that it iswrong to use the environment as a laboratory to test the transfers ofDNA from one plant to another since there no guarantee of getting theexpected positive results. Some experiments during the genesmodification have led to different varieties of crops, of which someare toxic for consumption. Moreover, genetic modification can resultin diverse kinds of unease and unreliable degree of intensity in acountry because of the wide range of ethical beliefs. It is ethicallywrong for either a company or the government to try out the geneticengineering that can cause loss of lives in case toxic plants arecreated (Starr et al., 2011). Nevertheless, scientific, social, andethical issues are not entirely separable. Ethics must be consideredwhen choosing the scientific knowledge to apply for the need ofimproving the living conditions of man. Furthermore, differentsocieties have unique values concerning the use of technology.Therefore, the ethical implications of genetically modified cropswill not be the same in every community.
Geneticallymodified crops ensure that food production is more sustainableespecially when the improved plants are managed well (Scholderer etal., 2012). Farmers, consumers, and the environment will also gainfrom the technology. Therefore, to realize a sustainable agriculturein the future, it is important the government encourages people toplant genetically engineered crops in an ecological farming. Also,biotech plants increase the productivity of farmers (Scholderer etal., 2012). Farmers who use biotech seeds usually harvest higheryields than those who cultivate the ordinary seeds. Moreover, higheryield leads to a higher income among the peasants. Furthermore,genetically modified crops help in improving biodiversity because theplants can cater for the growing world population as well as reducingthe pressure on biodiversity.
Geneticallymodified crops are also associated with increased application ofconservation tillage that conserves soil moisture, decreases soilcompaction, increases beneficial soil organisms, amplifies soilorganic matter, and controls soil erosion. Moreover, farmers are notexposed to pesticides as much as when they would have used theordinary plants (Scholderer et al., 2012).
Geneticallymodified foods are unhealthy according to the American Academy ofEnvironmental Medicine (AAEM) because they are associated withlong-term problems that are caused by the particles deposited in thehuman bodies (Scholderer et al., 2012). AAEM found that there weretraces of engineered corn in blood samples of pregnant women as wellas their unborn fetuses. Since genetically modified crop plants wereintroduced in the 90’s digestive system problems, food allergies,and autism have increased by over five percent.
Also,genetically modified crops are tolerant to herbicide, and this hasled to an increase in herbicide applications. Farmers, on the otherhand, have started using highly concentrated herbicides that leaveresidues in the plants (Scholderer et al., 2012). These residues areassociated with cancer, miscarriages, and hormonal disruptions.Besides, genetic modifications have side effects such as the creationof nutritional deficiencies, new toxins, allergens, andcancer-causing microorganisms.
Myopinion is that genetically modified plants are safe for human andanimal consumption because they are created using a method whichincludes the insertion of the desired genes from one crop thatpossesses better qualities into another plant that is being improved.
Scholderer,J., Verbeke, W., & National Research Programme NRP 59. (2012).GeneticallyModified Crop Production: Social Sciences, Agricultural Economics,and Costs and Benefits of Coexistence.Zurich: vdf Hochschulverlag AG an der ETH Zurich.
Starr,C., Evers, C. A., & Starr, L. (2011). Biology:Concepts and applications.Australia: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.
Starr,C., Taggart, R. & Evers, C. (2013). Cellbiology and genetics.Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.