We live in a world that is constantly changing and
advancing thanks to technological advancements, especially in the field of
molecular genetics. We are also making advancements in the field of agriculture
thanks to molecular genetics. As we all know, food is an essential entity in
our lives and is abundant as well as relatively easy to obtain here in the
United States. However, as good as it may sound, this is not necessarily true
for developing countries. Many people in developing
countries receive very little food, if any, due to its scarcity. It is estimated
that approximately 800 million people go to bed hungry every night due to food
shortage. This problem can be alleviated by turning to the production of
genetically modified organisms ( GMOs). This paper will discuss how to make
GMOs and some arguments about the safety of GMOs.
2. Discussion of findings.
2.1. What is GMO ?
As reported by Jennifer Chait ( 2017) , Genetically modified organism
(GMO) is an organism or microorganism whose genetic makeup has been altered or
modified in the laboratory by using genetic engineering techniques which
include recombinant DNA technology and reproductive cloning in order to
incorporate genes from another organism like plants, virus, bacterium, etc. By
adding these new genes, genetic engineers hope that these plant will express
the traits which are associated with the genes they choose. This traits may be
increasing product productivity, limiting diseases which effect to plants,
animals or creating new products having great nutrient.
2.2. How to make GMO ?
Identify the trait of interest.
Scientists most often find and select many traits from plants or
animals, sometimes from virus and bacterium so that they can identify a splendid
trait. The combination of critical thinking and luck is the key to create a
successful discovery of a new genetic trait of interest. For instance, an
organism which is able to survive in harsh environment may be a subject for
researchers to research for a trait that would allow a crop to survive in this
environment. Or if researchers want to create a plant that includes more
nutritionally and vitamins, they would
list different plants producing a nutrient of interest. Taking Golden rice
creating in 2000 as a current example of GMO that had combination of luck and
critical thinking. This new kind of rice has a great amount of pro-vitamin A,
which human body can turn into the vitamin A. Researchers identified special
gene producing pro-vitamin A then they listed several plants that they had
doubts about including this gene. Luckily, they found a plant in nature with a
high level of pro-vitamin A.
2.2.2. Isolate the genetic trait of interest.
Researchers usually use comparative
analysis to decode what part of an organism’s genetic makeup contains the trait
of interest. The genomes of plants with the trait they choose are compared to
genomes in the same species without the trait, with the goal of identifying
genes present only in the former. Scientists will purposefully delete, or knocking
out parts of the genome of interest until the desired trait is lost if there is
no database of genetic information for comparison. By this way, scientists can
identify the genes that lead to the trait. In order to carry out this process, a
method called seed chipping is developed and patented by Monsanto, a chemical
corporation. First, they shave off parts of seeds for high-throughput genetic
sequencing while leaving the rest of the seeds viable for planting. This
creates a genetic database for plants before they are grown, where a barcode
system is used to match plants to their genotypes. Researchers may then use
this database to identify new traits of interest as well as to assess the
desirable traits in a crop by selecting for the best genotypes based on plant
2.2.3. Insert the desired genetic trait into a new genome
Owning to their rigid structure, it is
very difficult to alter the genome of plant seeds. A lot of biotech
corporations use a special device called gene gun that shoots metal particles
coated with DNA into plant tissue. Monsanto no longer uses gene guns, but
instead takes advantage of special bacteria that
naturally invade seeds and alter plants by inserting pieces of their own DNA
into a plant’s genome. In biotechnology research, bacteria is commonly
engineered to produce a desired protein. Enzymes are used to cut and paste a
DNA strand of interest into a plasmid, which is a small, circular molecule of
DNA. Then scientists use heat or electricity to shock bacteria so that engineered
plasmid is accepted by the cells. By modifying this special bacteria, which is easier to modify than plant
seeds themselves, scientists may use the bacteria’s naturally invasive for inserting
desirable traits into a crop’s genome.
After a genetic trait has been
successfully inserted into an organism’s genome, the modified organism must be
able to grow and replicate with its newly engineered genome. First, the
genotype of the organisms must be checked so that researchers are only
propagating organisms in which the genome was modified correctly. Biotech
companies invest large sums into keeping these plants alive and reproducing
once they have been successfully created. The companies use special
climate-controlled growth chambers, and biologists often check on the plants by
hand to make sure that they are growing as expected. During this process
biotech companies will use automated machines in order to track plants and
calculate optimal seeding and growth conditions to create the best possible
yields. GMO seeds often come with instructions on spacing and nutrition that
result from these studies.
2.3. Is GMO really safe ?
2.3.1. About health.
Due to producing great amounts of foods
which have more nutrients, genetically modified organisms have the enormous
potential to solve the hunger and starvation of millions of people in
developing countries. Genetically modified organisms also contain large amounts
of nutrients like protein and vitamins, especially several qualities using to
manufacture precious medicine to cure people from dangerous diseases. However,
there are some doubts about the safety of genetically modified organisms. The
concerns are that new genes that are added to plants or animals may have
allergenic substances. Another is that genetic engineering often use antibiotic
– resistance genes as ” selectable markers” and this creates to some serious
public health problems because when people eat products that contain
antibiotic-resistant also could leads to protest antibiotics. It is extremely
dangerous for people when people need antibiotics to prescribe diseases. The
genetically modified organism may contain certain toxic substances, like heavy
metals. According to an experience which did by a French Scientist named Gilles
Eric Seralini in 2012, when mice ate
corn NK603, a kind of corn which was modified genes, they suffered from severe
liver and kidney damage. Cancer cells also existed in their body and after over
2 months, they died. What happened on these mice might happen on human.
2.3.2. About environment.
Some genetically modified plant contains a certain gene which is harmful to
insects. Growing this plant might decrease using pesticide, chemical fertilizer,
etc. Therefor people can not only manufacture amounts of fresh food but also
not influence to environment, especial soil and water. However, this lead to
another problems. There might be unintentional damage to other organisms. As
demonstrated in Nature magazine, pollen from genetically modified maize can
kill the King butterfly. The king butterflies eat nectar of ceiba not corn
nectar, but due to the wind blowing from corn to the ceiba growing in nearby
fields, the King butterflies eats and is destroyed. This reduces the number of
pollinating insects in other plants growing near the maize growing area.
Another problem is Reducing the
effectiveness of pesticides. Some mosquito populations have increased
resistance to DDT (currently banned, except for some poor tropical countries
for malaria control). Many researchers have confirmed that insects become
adapted to genetically modified corn and other GM crops that have been
genetically engineered to resist insect pests. Thus, the transfer of insect
resistance (insect larvae) to GM crops is no longer effective. One concern
about effect GMOs is the weeds. Genetically modified plants can have a negative
impact on natural ecosystems as they increase the risk of weeds in two ways.
First, genetically modified plants form independent populations that exist
outside of conventional farming areas. It is interesting to note that these
plants can become invasive weeds that expand and overwhelm natural populations
and thereby impair the biodiversity of indigenous vegetation. . New genes in
genetically engineered crops may turn to wild relatives in the form of pollen
propagation thanks to the viability and viability of the hybrids produced. This
can have a negative impact on wild populations if the new genes are
re-introduced into the original plant communities themselves. For gene entry,
genes must increase the viability and reproduction of plant communities in the
This research paper aims to clarify the process of
creating a genetically modified organism successfully and give the details of argument
that GMOs are really safe or not. To answer for the question ” Should we use
GMOs ?”, scientists and researchers should give the consumer a definite answer,
not arguments. For the consumer, they should be aware of what food they use and
understand clearly about the origin of them. Moreover, It is better to farmer
to consider carefully before deciding to grow GMOs.