Genetically Modified - Sample Essay

Research into Genetically Modified foods is Essential to the Survival of an Ever Increasing human Population, Discuss Genetically Modified Foods Or GM Foods as they are often called, have sparked much recent debate and to a large extent, criticism from the general public. In reality only four main constituents have been affected by the introduction of GM foods. Cheese: Recombinant Chymosin to coagulate milk Maize: Recombinant Bacillus Thuringiensis gene to damage the guts of insect pests Soya: `Roundup Ready? ` to resist glyphosate herbicide Tomatoes: `Flavr Savr? ` to delay spoilage and enhance taste.

Table: The Biochemist P32 October 1999 ? 1999 The Biochemical Society In general crop plants are being modified genetically for reasons such as: Increased shelf life, Increased flavour, move vivid colouring, resistance to agricultural control chemicals, herbivores and diseases. In 1998 world-wide 28 million hectares of land was devoted to the growing of transgenic crops. Landmarks In Public Awareness of Crop Genetic Modification The first transformed plants to be reported were tobacco plants in 1984. The event was seen as enormously significant in scientific circles but generated little public interest.

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The first GM plant field experiment in the U. K. was assessed by the then developing regulatory machinery in 1987. As now there was a requirement to inform the local community and to provide contact details of people who would provide more detailed information if necessary. The first call to be received by the research team was from a farmer wanting to be the first to grow the “improved potatoes”. This particular plant was assessed over a period of 6 years to address the needs of the UK and International regulatory processes and to produce a risk assessment.

Experiments involved: measurements of the distance of pollen transfer in potato and oilseed rape, and the sexual compatibility between crops and related species. During these early field experiments extra precautions were taken which were later found to be unnecessary e. g. Removal of potato flowers. Horsch, R. b. , Fraley, R. T. , Rogers, S. G. , Sanders, P. R. and Lloyd, A. (1984) Science 227, 1229-1231 & The Biochemist October 1999, Dale P. p10 Regulatory Processes The risk assessment procedure for GM organisms unusual because it was developed proactively.

In the past, safety measures have developed reactively in response to problems having occurred. Whereas there are clear advantages or adopting safety procedures in this way, proactive risk assessment does tend to sensitise people to the idea of things going wrong, without providing counterbalancing information on benefits. Over the past 13 years since the U. K. set up the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) and it`s predecessor committee, safety and assessment has been refined and developed by using the accumulated data and experience.

The safety assessment involves risks to human health and the environment , the procedures followed are consistent with the EEC Directive 90/220, with which all EU member states must comply. Dale, P. J. , Irwin, J. A. (1998) in Transgenic Plant Research, p277-285, Harwood Academic Publishers, Amsterdam Commercialisation Tomatoe puree launched in February 1996 by Zeneca was the first GM-crop product to be commercialised in the UK. The tomatoes were grown in the USA and marketed by two supermarkets, the GM puree was labelled “made with genetically modified tomatoes”, and a choice of tins containing GM and non-GN tomatoes were provided.

The GM tomatoes (which were cheaper than the Non-GM ones) sold well. The next step in the GM product chain was the release of Insect resistant maize and glyphosate herbicide tolerant Soya bean. The scientific risk assessment carried out by the USA regulatory bodies concluded that these two GM crops presented no greater risk than comparable conventionally bred crops. Therefore for sale within the USA these products did not need to be labelled or separated from non-GM crops.

It was also argued that because these crops were grown on a large scale by many different farmers across much of North America, it was impractical to segregate the GM harvest from the non-GM harvest. However, reactions to the U. S. GM crop industry in Europe have been somewhat adverse. The prospect of plants that could in effect conspire with farmers to produce chemically sterilised fields has sent Europe’s conservationists into a flat spin. They have issued dire warnings about the perils of agricultural biotechnology and call for moratoriums on GM plantings.

But Smart Canola is not quite what it seems. While European officials agonise over the pros and cons of growing GM crops, they could do little to stop farmers planting this oilseed rape. The reason: Smart Canola is not genetically engineered. The prospect of plants that could in effect conspire with farmers to produce chemically sterilised fields has sent Europe’s conservationists into a flat spin. They have issued dire warnings about the perils of agricultural biotechnology and call for moratoriums on GM plantings. But Smart Canola is not quite what it seems.

While European officials agonise over the pros and cons of growing GM crops, they could do little to stop farmers planting this oilseed rape. The reason: Smart Canola is not genetically engineered. News Article, Unknown Author, www. newscientist. org Views of the Biotech Companies Themselves It is widely believed within the biotech industry that genetically modified food will contribute to a better environment and a sustainable, plentiful, and healthy food supply. We recognise, however, that many consumers have genuine concerns about food biotechnology and its impact on their families.

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