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Research Topic - Should we be eating GM food?

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Introduction

Simeon T. Baker Should we be eating genetically modified food? There has been much controversy surrounding genetically modified (GM) crops over the past two decades. In 1994 the tomato was genetically modified for human consumption, the modification allowed the tomato to delay ripening after being picked, giving the tomatoes an overall longer shelf life and preventing them from being damaged in transit. In 1995 the BT (Basillus Thuringiensis) potato was regarded as safe by the EPA and became the first genetically modified pesticide producing crop to be approved in the USA [2]. In 1998 aggressive protests by green peace disrupted 3 out of 7 GM ?Farm-scale? trials in the UK ?on behalf of the British public? [4], to this day GM crops are not grown for human consumption in the UK. A tomato being injected with bacterium carrying a desired genetic trait [6] How are crops genetically modified? GM crops are harvests of fruit and vegetables that have been genetically modified to some effect; the most common modification is having plants produce a natural pesticide, however in the year 2000 scientists discovered it is also possible to increase the nutritional value of crops too. The process of genetic modification is not too dissimilar to gene therapy: first, the desired gene must be isolated. ...read more.

Middle

Unlike normal rice, Golden Rice is high in beta-carotene, a precursor molecule in the production of Vitamin A. Developed using DNA from maize and a common soil microorganism, this rice promises to solve the global problem of Vitamin A deficiency, estimated by the World Health Authority in 2009 to occur in around 190 million children and 19 million pregnant women. Syngenta has donated the most successful lines of its Golden Rice trials to the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board, along with all its research data and permission to use the seed for free. Other contributors to the board include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK government and the International Rice Research Institute. The collaboration between Monsanto and the Governments of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa to develop drought tolerant maize, is another example of GM research aimed at reducing world hunger. Also funded by the Gates Foundation, seeds will again be made available to farmers free of royalty payments.? [18] GM Foods in the world today 2011 was the 16th year of commercialization of biotech crops when growth continued after a remarkable 15 consecutive years of increases; a double-digit increase of 12 million hectares, at a growth rate of 8%, reaching a record 160 million hectares. GM crops are sold unlabeled in most parts of the USA; they have been for the past 14 years. ...read more.

Conclusion

Zinc Finger Nuclease (ZFN) technology is a high precision method of selecting and ?cleaving? genes from long strands of DNA. This allows the entire process of gene transduction to be carried out far more precisely ? reducing cost and potential risk drastically. The ability to precisely manipulate the genomes of plants, animals and insects has numerous applications in basic research, agriculture, and human therapeutics. Using ZFNs to modify endogenous genes has traditionally been a difficult task due mainly to the challenge of generating zinc finger domains that target the desired sequence with sufficient specificity. Improved methods of engineering zinc finger domains and the availability of ZFNs from a commercial supplier now put this technology in the hands of increasing numbers of researchers. Several groups are also developing other types of engineered nucleases including engineered homing endonucleases To conclude I believe the future of genetic modification is a bright one, though there are many obstacles to over come the important thing is educating people about the real risks and potential benefits. With technology accelerating exponentially I?m sure in the next 20 years or so we can improve conditions in many third world countries economically and reduce mortality rates vastly. With the possibilities growing larger every day and world resources running thin it seems to me that GMO?s will be our saving grace. BIBLIOGRAPHY: 1 ? (Non-web source) ?Seeds of Destruction? Author: F. William Engdahl Although quite biased, this source seems to be reasonably reliable. ...read more.

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