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The Benefits of using GM (Genetically Modified) plants outweigh the risks

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Introduction

The Benefits of using GM (Genetically Modified) plants outweigh the risks Genetically Modified organisms, mainly plants have always been a controversial and highly debated topic in our modern world of agribusiness and mass production. It involves obtaining desirable genes from different organisms and inserting them into the genes of plants. For example potato plants that are resistant to attack by a virus and maize (corn) plants that are resistant to droughts have been produced in this way (Indge, 2000). Plants can be genetically modified in one of two main ways. One way is using the bacterium, Agrobacterium tumifaciens, as a vector and the second is to use a gene gun in a process known as particle bombardment or biolistics. Agrobacterium tumefaciens can be used as a vector to transfer some of its own DNA (T-DNA) into the plant genome, causing tumours in what are known as 'natural infections.' The replacement of the T-DNA in the bacterium with genes of the desired characteristics means after infection the plant will display the desired characteristic (McHugen, 2000). This method has mainly been used to modify broad leaved plants, such as sugar beet and oilseed rape, but is now also being applied to crops such as maize and rice (http://www.genewatch.org/sub-532324). ...read more.

Middle

'According to the World Health Organization, vitamin A deficiency (VAD) causes some 250,000 to 500,000 children to go blind each year'(http://www.goldenrice.org/). The insertion of 3 different Vitamin A producing genes into the DNA of rice crops, has resulted in a new form of rice called "Golden Rice" which contains high levels of Vitamin A and helped to solve problems such as xeropthalamia. So as we can see there are many benefits which exist from these GM crops namely for farmers and consumers in LEDC's which allow them to grow crops sustainably. They have allowed reduced costs due to reduced use of herbicides and insecticides. Genetic engineering has also allowed the removal of allergens from crops currently containing them, enabled plants to resist colds and droughts as well as produce salt tolerant varieties of crops (important in parts of the Indian subcontinent and sub-saharan Africa) if global warming causes a rise in sea level. They have allowed for improved storage times, enabled plants to produce pharmaceutical substances as well as enhance the production of vitamins and anti-cancer substances by plants. However it would not be such a debated topic had there not been risks or disadvantages involved. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although many risk factors 'may' exist in GM crops, I would still think on the current level of mankind's knowledge that they are mainly advantageous to the global population. Sure there 'may' be risks involved, but until it is scientifically proved in my opinion GM crops still provide great advantages. Very little if any of the risks associated with GM crops are all risks which 'may' or 'could' occur, and have yet been proven. This has been proved by one of the top medical associations (BMA) as we saw above. GM crops should not be banned, but the strict controls on quotas, caps, world markets are needed to prevent exploitation of farmers and allow for fair trade. World starvation has more to do with wealth distribution rather than the inadequate production of foods. The huge potentials of improved nutritional value, increased immunity, the fact that they are faster, cheaper as well as being able to grow them in extreme climates surely lead to the conclusion that the advantages far exceed the risks. In our modern day and age of advanced science and technology, any risks that do exist are most likely to be minimised, and if they persist surely the use of such GM crops will be terminated. ...read more.

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