Genetically modified foods - Sample Essay
This is a report looking at the advantages and disadvantages that come with the new technology of genetically modified (GM) foods. I will be gathering and analyzing information for both sides of the argument and coming to my own conclusions about what I think should be done on the subject. I will be concentrating on whether or not GM foods would have a good impact on the world or a bad one, by this I mean, will GM foods help to solve food shortages in Africa or will they have a damaging effect on the environment.
I will carry out my report using information provided for me in class, this information is 6 A4 sheets of information which has different views on the subject of GM technology. What is Genetic Modification? This technology was developed during the 1970s to enable scientists to modify characteristics of living organisms by precisely manipulating their genes. Genetic modification is possible because all living organisms use the same molecule – DNA – to store coded genetic instructions to regulate the cell.
Genes, which contain the “recipe” for making proteins, are made up of segments of DNA. The same DNA sequence in two different organisms contains the code for the same protein, just as the opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony produce the same melody whether you play them on a violin or a trumpet. Like traditional breeding, genetic modification allows us to introduce changes in the characteristics of an animal or plant by making changes to the DNA. 1. Identify the characteristic you want to improve 2. Find and isolate the gene that controls this characteristic
3. Tag the gene so you can trace it 4. Introduce this gene into cells from your crop plant 5. Select those cells in which the new gene is working 6. Regenerate and cultivate plants from these cells 7. Make sure that the improved characteristic is passed on to future generations All genetic modification must comply with strict regulations. What are the facts? Well basically scientists simply don’t know whether GM crops damage the environment or not and until more research is put into this we will never know.
The problem is that like any argument there are 2 sides to it on one side you have got the people who want to go ahead with the trials and on the other side you have got the people who take a more conservative point of view and say we shouldn’t tamper with nature. What are the arguments? For GM Crops: I will start with the argument for GM crops. I think the main points that are made by these people are that GM crops could provide a solution to the problem of the starving in third world countries and GM crops provide an alternative to using harmful fertilizers to kill diseases.
People who argue for GM foods say that GM foods are better for the environment because they cut out the use of pesticides, this is done by putting a gene into the DNA of the plant that is resistant to the same thing as the pesticide. This means that when the crop is plated it will in effect have the pesticide built into it allow for it to fight off weeds or insects without the endless spraying of insecticides.
People also say that this is good for the environment because it means that the farmer doesn’t need to keep spraying the crops, this is good for thee environment because less fuel is used because the tractor isn’t needed and good insects aren’t killed off by the continuous spraying. The second of the arguments for GM crops is that they may be the solution to the planets food shortages it is estimated that if the population of earth continues to grow at the rate it is then it will double to 10 billion by the year 2030. The earth’s resources are already strained now so what will it be like in the future.
They believe that this is were GM crops can help this because they can triple crop yields without requiring additional farmland, saving valuable rainforests and animal habitat, and some of the plants will preserve precious ground soils and water resources. The people who want to see this technology take off do have a good argument and it is very careless of us not to be thinking about this sort of action because we are running out of time, according to the experts we only have 28 years until the population will double so we have to start thinking about a solution now. Against GM crops:
Critics of the technology before going into why they think it is risky would point out to you that it would be more than likely too expensive for developing nations to be able to afford the seeds every year. The thing with GM seeds is that one their DNA has been altered they become infertile so you will only get one harvest from your crops and then more would have to be bought, it is quite obvious that an third world farmer wouldn’t be able to afford this not even for one year. More obvious criticisms of the technology would be that people believe that GM crops would be damaging to; other Plants, Insects, Birds and soil organisms.
Critics of GM crops say that the insecticides that are used now (mainly glyphosate) would be replaced by ‘Broad Spectrum’ herbicides which are highly toxic and kill far more plants, insects and birds than other herbicides would. Critics of GM crops have indicated that bt toxin could travel through the food chain and kill beneficial insects such as lacewigs and ladybirds after it was first thought that GM crops would help them, although this obviously helps the critics it also shows that GM crops aren’t as good as first thought.
Probably one of the most heard of concerns about GM crops is that the GM pollen could get mixed in with normal plants through pollination which could have un desired consequences, this is probably one of the biggest fears for the critics. Conclusion It is difficult to say what should be done about this problem because of course we should plan for the future and make sure our children and grandchildren will not go hungry in the future. Even though it is important to consider our future we may be sacrificing things which by rights we shouldn’t, like insects and plants.
Maybe the problem is not the food but the population spiraling out of control maybe more should be done to control that! Recommendation In my opinion I think things like this should be tested but with caution, I believe that we should push on with research so that we don’t leave it to late to address the problem but the tests should be very carefully monitored and every effort should be made to make sure that there is as little cross pollination as possible.
Meanwhile I think more effort should be taken to address the problems of third world countries because for a lot of people in poverty the only reason that they have so many children is so that they can work to feed the family, I believe that if this technology was made cheaper then third world farmers could afford it and be able to support more people, maybe this way it could slow down the growth of the population.
Liam Pettinger General Studies Report – 1 – Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Variation and Inheritance section.