Genetically Modified Crops

Science 110
Genetically Modified Crops
Good or Bad
What are GMOs
❖ Stands for Genetically Modified Organisms
❖ Organisms that have a particular gene inserted into
their genetic makeup from another organism
❖ Used in Agriculture, Medicine, and Environmental
Leading Producers of GM Crops
❖ U.S.
❖ China
❖ Argentina
❖ Brazil
❖ Canada
❖ Paraguay
Which is not a GMO?
Basic GMO Process
❖ Use the latest Molecular Biology Techniques
❖ Isolate the gene responsible for a desired
❖ Transfer the gene into a different plant
Brief GMO Timeline
❖ 1935 Russian Scientist Andrei Belozersky isolates pure DNA.
❖ 1973 The idea for Man Made DNA comes from a grad student out of Stanford University Medical
❖ 1975 Asilomar Conference. Doctors and lawyers create guidelines for safe genetic DNA
❖ 1980 First patent on a living organism. A bacterium with an appetite for crude oil, used to clean
up spills.
❖ 1994 The U.S. FDA approves the Flavr Savr Tomato for sale on the grocery store shelves.
❖ 1996 First Genetically Engineered insect resistant corn approved by USDA
❖ 1997 Insect resistant Bt cotton approved by USDA
❖ 1997 European Union Rules to label all GMO food products.
❖ 1999 100 million acres are planted worldwide using GMO seeds.
❖ 2010 Syngenta’s “stacked” corn variety is approved by USDA. It contains multiple GE traits as
well as a resistance to pests.
Pros vs. Cons
Pros of genetically modified foods
❖ Better tasting food
➢ When foods are genetically modified, they can be enhanced in multiple ways. One way
they can be modified is by enhancing flavor. for example, corn can be made sweeter by
genetically modifying it.
❖ More nutritional benefits
➢ Another way that foods can be modified are through nutrients. Vitamins and minerals can
be added through the genetic modification process to provide greater nutritive benefits to
those who eat them.
❖ Crops have more durability in bad weather
➢ With modifications, crops can withstand extreme weather conditions and still maintain high
Pros Cont.
Golden rice grown in the Philippines. Vitamin A deficiency is responsible for 500,000 cases of irreversible
blindness and up to 2 million deaths each year.
Golden Rice contains beta Carotene and vitamin A which regular rice does not
about 1 cup of golden rice a day could provide half an adults vitamin A needs.
golden rice is not yet available for consumers to purchase.
Cons of GMOs
Cons of Genetically modified foods
❖ Altering evolution
➢ When plants are being genetically modified, they are being tampered with and taken out of
their natural state. This could throw off natural selection and the entire process of evolution
for those plants.
❖ Increase in allergic reactions
➢ Studies have shown that the consumption of GMO foods increases the risks of food-based
allergies in people
❖ Harm to the environment
➢ The herbicides associated can harm birds, insects, marine ecosystems and soil organism.
They can also pollute water resources and are unstable.
➢ GM crops are destroying the habitat for the Monarch Butterfly their population is down 50%
in the U.S.
Cons Cont.
Government Oversight
➢ Most health and environmental risk are ignored by government safety assessments. (because of political
➢ An outstanding consensus of FDA’s own scientist was that GMOs can create unpredictable and hard to
detect side effects.
➢ Does not require a single safety study, does not mandate labeling of GMOs.
➢ since GMOs were released in 1996 the percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses
went from 7% to 13%.
➢ food allergies have skyrocketed and disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders and digestive
problems are on the rise.
Side Effects on Animals
❖ Rats
Both male and female were found to have mammy
➢ Showed to have difficulty breathing.
➢ Liver and kidney damage as early as four months
➢ 50% males and 70% females died prematurely.
Side Effects on Humans
❖ Allergic Reactions
➢ GM Soy
In UK, soy allergies went up 50% soon after GM Soy was introduced
One person had a skin prick allergy to GM Soy but not to regular Soy
Contains an unexpected allergen-type protein not found in natural soy
➢ Bt Corn
Filipinos from five different villages got sick when a close Bt corn variety was
The gene that creates Bt toxin were to transfer it might turn our intenstinal flora into
living pesticide producer
Environmental Damage
There are many risks involved in the use of GMO’s. Environmental damage is
one of those risks. But, how do they affect the environment?
● Firstly, toxicity is a huge issue surrounding chemical pesticides and
herbicides used commonly with GMO’s.
● GMOs may be toxic to non-target organisms such as bees and butterflies.
● Bees are hugely important in the pollination of crops, but are extremely
endangered by the modern agricultural techniques used with GM foods.
Environmental Damage cont.
● Monarch butterflies are specifically at risk from
GMO maize plants.
● Birds are also at risk from pesticides. They act as biological control agents
such as pollinators, like bees and butterflies.
● Secondly, Long term effects of GMO’s are NOT certain.
● Pests that are targeted by these agricultural methods can adapt to
pesticides and herbicides.
● This means that it will not always be effective, but their toxic legacies will
Environmental damage cont.
Finally, biodiversity is put at risk by GMOs.
When GM crops are planted many heritage seeds are no longer used.
Toxins released into the soil through the plants roots mean fewer soil bacteria, which are integral to healthy soil
for plants to grow without the use of chemical fertilizers. Toxic residues are left in the soil of GM crops.
Nutrients are not returned to the soil in mono crops and from GMO foods, meaning that soil is becoming dry and
void of all nutrients, generally integral to the growing process.
A cycle of dependence on GMO seeds and chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides is then created in
order to grow a single crop. In addition to soil issues, the irrigation used to grow GM foods naturally carries all of
these problems into water sources and into the air. This exposes different bacteria, insects, and animals to the
same problems.

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