Genetically modified organisms are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. The creation of a genetically modified organism is a multi-step process. Genetic engineers must isolate the gene they wish to insert into the host organism and combine it with other genetic elements, including a promoter and a termination region and often a selectable marker. A number of techniques are available for inserting the isolated gene into the host genome.
Genetically modified (GM) foods were first approved for human consumption in the United States in 1994, and in 2014-2015, approximately 90 percent of corn, cotton, and soybeans planted in the United States were genetically modified. At the end of 2014, GM crops covered nearly 1.8 million square kilometers (695,000 square miles) of land in more than two dozen countries around the world. The majority of GM crops were grown in the Americas.
Pros Of Genetically modified organisms
- GMO practices can be used to produce “designer” crops, which have more nutrients, grow quicker and produce more yield, are more resistant to pesticides and use less fertiliser.
- Artificially implanting DNA from one species to another can save many, many years of research. Waiting for the unpredictable nature of traditional breeding methods can take decades to achieve the required equilibrium; such a goal can be reached instantaneously with GMO.
- Manufacturers use genetic modification to give foods desirable traits. For example, they have designed two new varieties of apple that turn less brown when cut or bruised.
- Crop protection is the main rationale behind this type of genetic modification. Plants that are more resistant to diseases spread by insects or viruses result in higher yields for farmers and a more attractive product.
- The farmers can produce the same amount of food using less land, less water, and fewer pesticides than conventional crops. Because they can save on resources, food producers can also charge lower prices for GMO foods.
- GMO crops have many advantages for your health, such as greater nutritional value and fewer pesticides.
Cons Of Genetically modified organisms
- Transgenic modification produces organism types which would never occur naturally, making them highly unpredictable.
- Though GMOs were developed with a view to reducing the amount of pesticides used, this is not always the case. As weeds and bacteria become resistant to the pesticide, farmers actually use more, safe in the knowledge the crop will not be affected.
- Often GMO products are not clearly labelled, meaning people do not have the choice to decide whether or not they wish to consume GMO products.
- Higher levels of allergens in a host plant that contains known allergenic properties, and new proteins created by the gene insertion that could cause allergic reactions.
- There are also concerns about how genetically modified food will affect the overall food chain. A pest that suddenly stops being even remotely annoying to a sturdier crop can die out and leave an important link in the food chain with nothing to eat.
GMO foods have been available in the U.S. since the 1990s. The most common GMO crops grown in the country are cotton, corn, and soybeans. Most GMO crops become ingredients in other foods. These include:
- corn starch in soups and sauces
- corn syrup used as a sweetener
- corn, canola, and soybean oils in mayonnaise, dressings, and breads
- sugar derived from sugar beets
In the United States, there are no regulations requiring labeling of foods derived from GMOs. This is because these foods must meet the same safety standards that apply to all products regulated by the FDA, and no further regulation should be necessary. The FDA has determined that a food containing GMOs must be labeled as such if it is “materially different” from its conventional counterpart. Because genetic modification can make plants resistant to disease and tolerant of herbicides, the process can increase the amount of food that farmers are able to grow. This can reduce prices and contribute to food security.
GMO crops are relatively new, and researchers know little about their long-term safety and health effects.