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The Moral and Ethical Issues associated with DNA Technology

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Introduction

The Moral and Ethical Issues associated with DNA Technology The topic of genetically modified crops has been one of popular debate in recent years, there are many different issues that people disagree over and the argument over whether or not they are commercially grown in Europe still continues. "Strong anti-GM technology sentiment in some parts of Europe has been influencing the food supply chains for 3-4 years. This has contributed to the development of distinct non-GM derived food and feed markets and effectively halted the EU wide approvals process for GMOs. On the 17th October 2002 new rules governing the safety approval of field trials and the growing of genetically modified (GM) crops came into force in the European Union (EU). Many people believe that this legislation is an important new step in facilitating the wider commercialisation of GM crops in Europe." www.bioportfolio.com/pgeconomics/gm_europe.htm The first step in genetically modifying a plant is to locate the specific gene that gives the desired trait. The next step is to isolate and extract the gene. The cells have to be broke open, this can be done using chemicals to dissolve the cell walls, with a blender or else mechanically. ...read more.

Middle

By growing new plants from these modified cells the first generation of the genetically modified plants are developed. A genuine concern for many people regarding GM crops is how they affect the environment. One of the major concerns is the unpredictable effects of cross-contamination. This is when pollen or seeds are carried from GM plots and could result in genetically modifying populations elsewhere. The GM crops could have a resistance to herbicides, when crossed the new plants could become 'superweeds' that we could not control. "There are already conventionally bred herbicide-tolerant varieties of oilseed rape, and the possibility therefore exists for transfer of these genes to produce herbicide-tolerant 'superweeds'." http://www.gmissues.org/introduction/issues.htm. A similar fear is that pest-resistant crops will lead to a new breed of "superpests" but these have yet to be found in the wild. 'English Nature' the government advisory body on wildlife, is concerned that such a change to the environment may have an impact on the surrounding wildlife. There are concerns that pest-resistant crops will remove food sources for animals, as many herbicides used along with GM crops wipe out everything except the wanted produce. ...read more.

Conclusion

Every year in Europe farmers produce so much food that it often has to be destroyed. To avoid this they are sometimes paid to keep empty fields and so produce much less. In this respect GM foods seem unnecessary in Europe. GM foods are not needed for a healthy diet. Although there is little proof that GM crops are unsafe, in the future they may contain a gene from a plant or animal that has never been a part of our diet. This could lead to unexpected health problems, as safety testing cannot be 100% effective. Genes can cross from the food we eat to the bacteria in our stomachs, and these might include antibiotic-resistant genes that have been routinely used as marker genes in GM technology. This could render antibiotics ineffective against human and animal diseases. The unknown risks surrounding GMOs have not yet been fully understood. If the EU decides to grant genetically modified crop licences in Europe they could be making huge environmental, social, economic and even health problems for future generations. There is little evidence that GM will offer us a more sustainable future. In fact, the main benefits are solely for the biotechnology companies, the multi-national corporations who have more and more power over our food chain. ...read more.

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