Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have become undoubtedly very common in the past century. This biotechnology allows scientists to alter the genetic material in an organism by introducing foreign genes, which belong to a different organism. Hence, a genetically modified organism has some similar characteristics as the gene donor, yet is still unique in some ways (Dulson, 2011).
In order to genetically modify a crop, a gene of interest is chosen from a different organism. Next, this gene is inserted into a vector (usually a plasmid is the most common gene transfer tool for plants) by the process of recombinant DNA. The plasmid with the desired genes is then inserted into a plant’s chromosomes (“Process of Developing Genetically Modified (GM) Crops”).
Genetically Modified products have many benefits such as the ability to resist pests and diseases, have a longer shelf life and may have greater nutritional value (“Benefits of GM Food”). However, many people believe GMOs are unethical because they are not natural. In addition, the long-term effects are not known, and GMOs may lead to altered structure of kidneys, birth defects, abnormalities in protein formation and much more (“GMO Defined”).
In the article ‘Coming soon: Genetically edited ‘super bananas’ and other fruit?’ a recent advancement in genetic technology; Genetically Engineered Organisms (GEOs), is described. GEOs allow for precise editing in the genome of crops without introducing any foreign genes. It is hoped this biotechnology will be more accepted by the society than GMOs due to the absence of foreign genes. Hence, crops are more “natural” than GMOs, as said by Chidananda Nagamangala Kanchiswamy. Moreover, researchers say that genetically edited plants “might even be deemed as non-genetically modified” (“Cell Press”, 2014).
Instead of the insertion of foreign genes, small genetic changes (such as insertion, deletion, and alternation) that increase or decrease the levels of natural ingredients occur. These changes are done using new tools such as the CRISPE and TALEN. Crops, or fruits (such as “super bananas”) that are genetically edited contain more vitamins, and hence are better in quality. Thus, this new technology results in many benefits, and “perhaps their commercialization will be allowed even in countries in which GMOs have so far met with harsh criticism and controversy” (“Cell Press”, 2014).
Personally, I believe GEOs could be a great beginning to a change in foods that will positively impact people. The greatest advantage of this new technology is that it doesn’t require the introduction of foreign genes [which has been proven to result in various health concerns, and thus make people skeptical and uncertain about the safety of eating genetically modified food (“GMO Defined”)]. Instead, there are slight genetic changes. Thus, this could potentially result in a better acceptance, as oppose to the harsh criticism for Genetically Modified Organisms. Moreover, in the future this technology could perhaps be applied not only to bananas, but also to other foods as well such as meat, corn, and potatoes.
Question: Do you believe the consumption of Genetically Edited foods has the potential to alter the genetic material of healthy bacteria in our body? If so, why might this be a concern? Also, how do you think people will react to this new technology? Better, or worse than for GMOs? Why?
*The healthy bacteria are our first line of immune defense and fight against harmful bacteria, which may cause diseases (Evans, 2010).
Benefits of GM Food:. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, http://classes.soe.ucsc.edu/cmpe080e/Spring05/projects/gmo/benefits.htm
Cell Press. (2014, August 13). Coming soon: Genetically edited ‘super bananas’ and other fruit?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 10, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140813131044.htm
Dulson, Jacqueline. Nelson Biology 11: University Preparation. Toronto: Nelson Education, 2011. 148. Print.
Evans, K. (2010, April 20). GMOs Alter the Genetic Make Up of Our Healthy Bacteria. Retrieved November 15, 2014, from http://www.naturalnews.com/028635_gmos_bacteria.html#
GMO Defined. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2014, from http://gmo-awareness.com/all-about-gmos/gmo-defined/
Process of Developing Genetically Modified (GM) Crops – African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE). (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2014, from http://www.nepadbiosafety.net/subjects/biotechnology/process-of-developing-genetically-modified-gm-crops
Process of Developing Genetically Modified (GM) Crops – African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE). (nNovember 12, 2014, from http://www.nepadbiosafety.net/subjects/biotechnology/process-of-developing-genetical