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The Benefits of the use of DNA Technology in Agriculture outweigh the Disadvantages.

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Introduction

The Benefits of the use of DNA Technology in Agriculture outweigh the Disadvantages Lindsay Claxton There is much controversy surrounding the topic of genetically modified foods, a subject that provokes an emotional debate as some of the ideas contradict many moral and religious beliefs. Many 'disadvantages' are merely the moral views of people, and have little or no scientific link, such as the belief of consuming a plant with a human gene spliced into its DNA is an act of cannibalism. Any true disadvantages, however, are greatly outweighed by the benefits of the use of DNA technology. Recombinant DNA technology involves the combination of DNA from one organism with DNA from another organism. For example desirable genes can be transferred from an organism to a crop plant. Firstly, the required gene is isolated, using one of three different methods. In one method, the amino acid sequence of the protein must be discovered and a genetic code can be used to work out the base sequence that codes for the protein. An artificial gene with complementary DNA is produced from the DNA with the base sequence of the protein. ...read more.

Middle

Under the right conditions, the genes and plasmids will join together, called 'ligation'. The enzyme controlling this process is ligase. The main reason for genetically engineered crops is so that the plants have new, desirable qualities. The gene inserted into the vector could code for characteristics of the plant that would make it be easier to grow. The taste of the crop can be enhanced, and the shelf life and transportation can be improved by controlling ripening in products, such as melons, tomatoes. Some advantages of using genetically modified crops are that the plants have an improved resistance to pests, and to bacterial, viral and fungal disease, using the plant equivalent of a vaccine. They also have an improved resistance to herbicides so that they are unaffected when herbicide is sprayed on the fields to control weeds. Plants can be made to able to resist the cold or drought, and genes can be inserted so that the crop is salt-tolerant. This quality would be useful particularly as global warming causes a rise in sea level. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the meantime the pesticide-resistant insect population would increase and damage vast quantities of crops. It is believed that the genetically modified crops may cause new allergens and toxins in food, and that the increased use of chemicals on crops could result in the contamination of our food water supply. However, whilst research is still being carried on the consequences and implications of using genetic modified crops, any negative effects are not completely justified. For example, the effects on consuming a plant with genes inserted to a person 50 years after eating the plant will not be known yet, and any side-effects can only be predicted. As the advantages of using GM foods are more immediate, the idea of producing crops with a gene to improve its qualities and marketing appears more attractive as the full extent of the disadvantages are still not yet fully known. People are still wary by the unnecessary negative press that GM foods have received. On the other hand, research could uncover more benefits to DNA technology and possibly methods of controlling any ill-effects the insertation of a new gene could have. ...read more.

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