Genetically Edited Organisms

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).

Reference List:

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

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4 thoughts on “Genetically Edited Organisms

  1. I believe it does have the potential to alter the genetic material healthy bacteria in our body. I believe that when food or any consumer goods are genetically altered there is always health risks involving humans and animals. I do not believe it is “natural” or “better” than GMOs because, the only difference is the fact that this technology is making small genetic changes using insertion, deletion, and alternation, where as GMOs insert foreign genes. I believe things that have to do with changing the genetic materials of a product always has a way of getting back to humans either in a positive or negative way -in this case I believe it is negative. When people hear about this new technology there will be two sides for this, a side against it and a side for it. It seems that it is kind of better than GMOs but, I still believe they are both bad, there may be a risk involved but not yet discovered for this new technology.

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  2. As far as I can tell, your post consists of three things: the debate of whether or not GMOs are good for us, the introductions of ‘GEOs’ into the running as well as the competition they serve for the GMOs and the all-natural foods, and your question. For less confusion, I will address them separately.

    I’ve done my own research and found that GMOs, genetically modified organisms, have quite a few benefits to them. With their use, there is a reduced herbicide and pesticide demand, reduced greenhouse emissions (as GMOs require much less machine labour like tillage and plowing, thus decreasing the use of fossil fuels), an introduction of the ability to manipulate foods into increasing desirable components (like nutrients), and the increased production of food for starving third-world countries. The ethical issue doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me – technically, everything is “natural” (nature includes everything, after all) – and much research has gone into GMOs the past couple of years to detect and reduce these “unknown long-term effects” of which you speak, and subsequently much evidence has been found that the actual harm of their harmful effects has been highly overstated. So, when it comes to GMOs, I personally am not that worried.

    However, the introduction of GEOs, genetically engineered organisms, does intrigue me. These are clearly different from GMOs, and the way you sell them as well as how they sound on their own makes them seem not only better than GMOs, but perhaps even better than all-natural food. I think it makes sense to consider GEOs a refined version of GMOs, and with that in mind, doesn’t it make sense to optimize our food output, especially with such a demand for our staggering world populations? Biological issues can be dealt with effectively as research and consequent knowledge of these issues increases, and vague ethical concerns can be dealt with using logic and reason.

    With all this in mind, your question awaits…well, for starters, you’ve already made clear that GEOs are much more refined than GMOs and thus have less harmful genetic effects (if any) – therefore, GEOs might have the potential to harmfully affect our genetic codes, but it doesn’t seem likely. However, if they do, concerns would be obvious – no one wants their food attacking them on a genetic level, so people would question the safety of such seemingly perfect solutions to food problems. And finally, how people will react…I’ve noticed that most of the problems perceived about GMOs stem from a lack of understanding of (a) what they are, and (b) how they work. Thus, if we can avoid this problem with GEOs by providing the public with more opportunities for learning and growth, we won’t face the same social problems that we have with GMOs.

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  3. Yes, I do believe that the consumption of Genetically Edited foods has the potential to alter the genetic material of healthy bacteria in our body. i believe it because i read and article how some populations of mosquitoes developed resistance to the now-banned pesticide. Therefore this is dangerous for humans because, we use bacterias as a protection. In my opinion GEOs are very helpful and i don’t think there will be many criticisms against it. It is not like GMOs where they use foreign genes and it less dangerous. I personally like this new technology because it has potential to solve many problems in the world. But, it needs to be controlled we can’t just start using this new technology not knowing what can it cause and if it is safe for humans.

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  4. The genetically edited foods are, in my opinion, a much better alternative. It let’s farmers use crops that are genetically changed, but no other species genes to be present. In my post I mentioned that a single gene can be responsible for several types of cancers. But something triggered that gene mutation. It is possible that previously used genetically modified organisms that contained other species’ genes, caused this mutation to happen. If that’s the case, it is not guaranteed that future mutations, like this one, will not happen again. Therefore switching to a better alternative may help people avoid this sort of mutations that may cause cancer.

    I don’t think that this GEOs can alter the genetic material of health bacteria, since the editing of genes is a speed up of evolutions, which is a natural process, while the GMOs are the crossing of DNA of two different specie. For the same reason, I think that people will accept this technology with better than they accepted GMOs, since again, this is just a speed up of evolution itself.

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