Genetic Engineering is the process of manipulation of an organism’s genes. The process involves Recombinant DNA, which is bringing genetic material from multiple organisms and creating a sequence that would not be otherwise found in the genome. Recombinant DNA has many positive effects and it has produced medications such as vaccines, antibiotics, and allergens. Genetic Engineering is not only limited to DNA because Genetically Modified foods can also be produced from these methods. Genetic Engineering is used in fields such as medicine, industrial biotechnology and agriculture. In the Genetic Engineering of crops there are many risks factors involved. From these risks, objections have been raised that foods derived from the Genetically Engineered crops are unsafe to eat and the cultivation of these crops will harm the environment. Genetic Engineering possesses the possibility to carry certain risks to human health, however it also introduces a higher probability of benefits to nutrition values.
Genetic Engineering is a step into the future because of all the possibilities that are brought up by recombinant DNA. With the estimates indicating that the world population will climb above 7.5 billion by the year 2020 and 9 billion by 2050, the benefits of GM crops seem critical to producing the quantities of crops necessary for worldwide nourishment (Metcalfe). Recombinant DNA technology offers a powerful new tool to assist plant breeders to produce crops with improved characteristics, such as insect resistance, disease resistance, herbicide tolerance, and climatic tolerance, as well as with enhanced consumer benefits, such as improved flavor and texture, longer shelf life, and added nutritional values. When crop yields become predictable, then the food supply would become predictable as well. This gives the ability to provide well rounded nutrition abilities. These improved characteristics are essential for the future because the population of the world is highly likely to increase.
There are many objections that have brought up on Genetically Modified crops because people believe Genetically Modified Crops have several risk factors that are unaccounted for. The potential health hazard of each genetically transformed food includes the risk of allergenicity, which has led to strategies to monitor transformed crops for allergenic potential before release. In 2012, the American Association for the Advancement of Science summarized the consensus, writing that, The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of sciences, the British Royal Society, and every other respected organization that has examined the evidence has come to the same conclusion: consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques. (Sunstein). This demonstrates that, although there are risk factors that negatively effect genetic engineering, the risks are highly speculative and GM food consumption has not caused any known health problems.
Genetic Engineering is beneficial to the nutrition because GM food is manipulated to add more nutritional values and greater resistance to herbicide. This modification also contributes to longer shelf life. For example, the Innate potato has been engineered to prevent bruising and browning, as well as to reduce the amount of the possible-carcinogen acrylamide released when the potato is fried (Sunstein). Carcinogen Acrylamide is a chemical produced when vegetables that contain the amino acid asparagine, such as potatoes, are heated to high temperatures in presence of certain sugars. Acrylamide exposures also increase the risk for several types of cancers, however Genetic Engineering of vegetables reduces the amount of Acrylamide released. This shows that Genetic Engineering reduces the risk for possible health problems that can be caused by vegetables.
Genetic engineering techniques allow for the introduction of new traits as well as greater control over traits when compared to previous methods, such as selective breeding and mutation breeding. In the United States, the large portion of food produced is from Genetic Engineering. In 2001, over 65% of the soybeans and over 25% of the corn grown in this country were genetically modified (Lessick). Biotechnicians have created fruits and vegetables that have disease, insect and herbicide resistance. For example, Papayas were genetically modified to resist the ringspot virus, which primarily affects the papaya trees. Unlike conventional breeding, in which new assortments of genes are created at random, Genetic Engineering allows specific genes to be identified, isolated, copied and introduced into other organisms in much more direct and controlled ways (Jones). Genetic Modification makes it possible to introduce foreign genes into crop plants and express these in specific tissues such as roots or leaves and not in others. This would highly likely improve crop protection against pests that attack only roots or leaves (Jones). GM technology can help to breed food crops with higher contents of micronutrients; a case in point is Golden Rice with provitamin A in the grain (Qaim).
Genetically Modified crops can improve nutrition content. Genetic Modifications add pest resistance and weather resistance to GMO crops. Through a process called pharming, it is possible to produce certain proteins and vaccines, along with other pharmaceutical goods, because of the use of genetic modifications. This practice offers cheaper methods of improving personal health and could change how certain medications are provided to patients in the future (Jones). The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations states that one of the positives of GMOs is that farmers can produce more nutritious food. Many foods are in the works for bio-fortification for this reason. Rice, for example, feeds 50 percent of the world’s population, so genetically modifying rice to have more vitamin A would reduce vitamin A deficiency in developing countries. In 2015, 94% of soybean acreage in the U.S. was genetically modified to be glyphosate-tolerant (Jones). Glyphosate is a herbicide that is widely used to kill weed, broadleaf plants, and grasses. The World Health Organization identified to glyphosate to be one of the causes of cancer in human. The Soybean produced through genetic modification is designed to be tolerant to this herbicide, therefore, it would reduce the risk of cancer. These bacterial antibiotic resistant genes that were introduced to into GM Plants as a selection marker for their primary transformation. US Food and Drug Administration has accepted arguments that these antibiotic resistant do not compromise safety.
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