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Genetic Modification In Food And Its Effectiveness

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Genetic modification (GM) is a method that uses technology in order to alter and improve the genetic makeup of an organism. For example, Golden Rice is genetically modified to increase its health benefits by placing Vitamin A within it.

Why is Genetic Modification Carried Out?

GM is a significant process utilised in a variety of ways that can benefit the production of crops as well as improve the behaviours of organisms. Due to high demands in crops, they have been genetically modified so that its production is increased. This is done by targeting a crop’s endurance to herbicides and to produce pest repellence. Furthermore, GM is carried out to add health benefits to food, especially for developing countries. This health advantage allows for a population to gain vitamins and other benefits. Additionally, GM is carried out so that food or crops become resistant to dreadful weather patterns. Corn is a common form of GM food that is carried out in order to increase its production, to add health benefits and to make it resistant to droughts. This has led to an increase in corn production as well as allowed corn to become nutrient-rich crops.

Steps of Genetic Modification

GM within food involves precise steps where new traits are inserted within a new genome. Firstly, the desirable genetic trait must be isolated where scientists decode the part of an organism’s genetics that contains the trait of interest. The genomes of organisms with the trait are compared to genomes in the same species without the trait. Next, scientists insert the trait of interest into a new genome. Biotechnology companies normally use a “gene gun” that places metal particles covered in DNA into a tissue. Another method used to place a trait into a genome is through Agrobacterium tumefaciens. It infects plants by delivering a specific piece of its genome to the nuclei of cells. In Figure 1, the bacterial cell has been placed within the gene that produces the pest-killing protein. This will allow for the new organism to become pest-resistant. After the succession of the genetic trait being inserted into an organism’s genome, the modified organism can grow and clone. As shown in Figure 1, steps 2 and 3 show the growing and breeding of the plants in which demonstrate a succession of GM. Many biotechnology companies invest a large amount to keep the organisms alive by using climate-controlled growth chambers.

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How Well Does Genetic Modification Work?

Within Australia, many food products have been highly successful in genetically modifying food to build resistance to pests or diseases. More specifically, Australia has GM cotton where it was first grown in 1996. This has been carried out to increase herbicide tolerance and resistance to pests. These traits have helped farmers with pest and weed issues in which can further assist with environmental impacts of regular farming. Since the introduction of GM cotton, there has been a significant decrease in herbicides. Australia’s cotton industry is worth more than $1 billion annually with 1500 cotton growers across NSW and Queensland. Furthermore, resistance to pests has allowed for an abundance of cotton to grow. This has allowed for an increase in the production of clothing, cotton buds, and less known products like banknotes and x-rays. Consequently, the GM of cotton has shown to be successful and is, therefore, a highly effective method that can be utilised in Australia.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Food

The process of GM in food comes along with a variety of advantages and disadvantages. More specifically, scientists can add specific nutrients within the new organism. For example, Golden Rice is a genetically engineered food that produces Vitamin A as well as other vital vitamins. Additionally, the modification of food allows them to be resistant to tough weather conditions and pests. This will eventually allow them to grow on land that is often tough for the growing and breeding of crops and will require fewer environmental resources such as water. Essentially, this will become low maintenance to farmers. As well as this, GM comes with an economic advantage where they are cheaper to grow, despite the initial modifying cost. Farmers won’t have to tend to the crops as often where the consumption of pesticides and herbicides will decrease. Conversely, many concerns come along with the GM of food such as the potential risk of pests or insects evolving resistance to the toxins produced by GM crops. This could ultimately cause the crops to wither. Moreover, GM food can trigger allergic reactions due to the organism containing foreign genes from other foods in which an individual can be allergic to. Lastly, GM can lead to a lower level of biodiversity. When a certain pest that is harmful to crops is removed, it could also remove a food source for a certain species.

Effectiveness of Genetically Modified food

GM is a highly effective process which allows for the improvement of crops and food. This can be a useful tool to help with the ongoing issue of famine that is occurring in many regions around the world. More specifically, GM’s advantages outweigh the disadvantages in which it allows for more nutrient-rich foods, cheaper growing costs and high resistance to pests and tough weather conditions. The disadvantages are not long term and can essentially be solved with the use of technology. However, with these advantages, GM can assist with famine within developing countries. Australia utilises GM for economic purposes as well as yield, however, Australia can offer guidance with the issue to terminate famine in developing countries. More specifically, GM of food is the solution to stop food famine as they can provide nutrient-rich and efficient productions. Approximately, 140 million children in Africa and South-East Asia are Vitamin A deficient. Researches in Germany have combatted this problem by genetically modifying rice, now known as Golden Rice. This GM crop contains three new genes in which helps it produce Vitamin A. Developing countries, especially South-East Asia have found it easy to produce these crops and have thus, decreased Vitamin A deficiency within these areas due to GM crops. Furthermore, GM crops will be more durable than regular crops. Due to the crops having resistance to pests and tough weather conditions, the crops will flourish for a longer period. This will successfully feed a specific population for a long time where famine will significantly decrease within a region. As these crops are durable, Australia could expand its GM range and transport the crops to other countries in order to eradicate famine.

Therefore, GM is a highly effective method that can help decrease famine within developing countries where the crops are cheaper to grow, contain a high amount of nutrients and contain resistance to pests as well as tough weather conditions.

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Genetic Modification In Food And Its Effectiveness. (2022, February 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 6, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/genetic-modification-in-food-and-its-effectiveness/
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Genetic Modification In Food And Its Effectiveness [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 21 [cited 2022 Dec 6]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/genetic-modification-in-food-and-its-effectiveness/
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