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GM Crops- Should they be grown?

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Introduction

GM Crops- Should they be grown? In February 2004, Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett announced that commercial planting of some GM crops would commence in the United Kingdom following approval of genetically-modified maize within the scientific community. The Daily Mail responded to the announcement by stating that 'the decision - by the Government's Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment - flies in the face of official polls showing 90 per cent of people oppose the genetic modification of crops and food'1. Gm crop production has remained a much debated subject within international politics and social discussion. Conflicting reports from the media which support and scrutinise the subject of genetically modified crops and their safety have heightened public concerns fuelling hysterical speculation. Yet there are advantages and disadvantages relating to the application of gene technology to crop production. The pros and cons of the commercial growth of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is combined closely within a mesh of economic, social, ethical and environmental factors that must be considered before answering the question - Should genetically modified crops be grown? Genetic modification or recombinant DNA technology is the technique of changing, and transferring genetic material. ...read more.

Middle

Genetic modification of crops may potentially have several health and medical benefits. Recombinant DNA technology could allow the removal of allergens from crops that currently contain them, and enable the production of plants that produce pharmaceutical substances, acting as edible vaccines. Gene technology could enhance the production of vitamins and anticancer substances produced by plants6. Benefits for the consumer include increased storage time, improved flavour, texture, and nutritional content, improved quality and possible decrease in pricing. Although the process of transferring and inserting genetic material between organisms could be viewed as a recent unethical advance in biological science, the fact remains that we as humans have been using organisms for years; Plants and foods as a source of medicine, plants for shelter and tools, bacteria has been used to produce milk, cheese and vinegar, whilst yeast have been manipulated to make bread and alcohol. Humans genetically changed these organisms because only the organism that showed the best qualities was allowed to breed - a process called artificial selection, because it was humans not nature that determined which characteristics were allowed to dominate the population and continue to breed. ...read more.

Conclusion

Therefore before we press ahead with mass international growth of GM crops it is essential that there should be an international moratorium on the commercial growing of GM crops to allow further scientific analysis of socio-economic, health and environmental implications, public debate on biotechnology aimed at educating and informing, establishment of national regulatory/monitoring systems, and issuing of legislation ensuring company liability for adverse effects. More countries must sign the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), which should advocate the precautionary principle in relation to transboundary movements of GM crops, regulating liability and compensation in relation to possible GM technology-related damage. World trade organisation rules should be amended to allow governments to restrict imports and/or allow mandatory labelling of GM seeds and foods available to the public on the open market, whilst also tackling the ethical concerns of some religious groups who cannot use products from specific organisms. It is then and only then that both scientific communities as well as the general inhabitants of international communities can be confident that the disadvantages of commercial growth of GM crops can be overcome and successfully controlled. Ultimately allowing us to reap the advantages of the growth of GM crops and what is undoubtedly a highly significant technological advancement in biological science. ...read more.

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