What are Genetically Modified Plants and how are they created?
Genetically Modified Plant - “a plant that has been created through genetic engineering”
Genetic engineering is another term for biotechnical methods used to modify an organism’s genetic material
Genetic Engineering is 4 basic steps:
1. Identify a trait of interest
2. Isolate the genetic trait
3.Insert the trait into the genome of an organism
4.Grow the engineered organism
Benefits and Applications of Genetically Modified Plants
In the past, people have used selective breeding to obtain certain desirable traits. However, the process may take many generations. It can also introduce unwanted characteristics from previous plants.
Genetic engineering is a faster, more targeted approach at obtaining certain desirable traits with less effort and expense. It also allows us to overcome the barrier of sexual incompatibility between plant species, and increase the size of the gene pool.
Applications in agriculture
Some Benefits are:
Increased Nutritional Value
Increased Shelf Life
Greater resistance to outside stress like droughts or pests or disease.
Millions are undernourished or don’t have secure access to food and our population is predicted to increase. GM plants can be used to meet these increased demands.
Applications in medicine: Allow researchers to develop a wide range of medicines that will be able to treat a variety of diseases that current medicines can’t.
Problems and Ethical Concerns
Potential toxicity or allergic reactions to GM crops
Concern that GM plants can develop more mutations than non-GM plants. The mutations can be potentially harmful.
Transfer of unnecessary DNA to a new plant.
Accidental cross-breeding with non GM plants. Could contaminate natural ecosystem.
Potential harmful effects on other wildlife like insects.
Potential for pests to become resistant to the toxins produced by GM crops.
GM plants could become invasive.
Elimination of useful genes in original varieties. (When people start using GMs, they stop using the original varieties. This can eliminate useful genes and reduce the diverse genepool found in original versions)