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  • Subject area(s): Engineering
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  • Published on: 7th September 2019
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Part A -  Literature Search

ProQuest

1. Lehrman, A & Johnson, K 2008, ‘Swedish Farmers attitudes, expectations and fears in relation to growing genetically modified crops’, Environmental Biosafety Research, Vol. 7.3, pp. 153-162.

2. Ali, S, Zafar, Xianyin, YZZ, Ali, GM & Jumin, T 2008, ‘Transgenic crops: Current challenges and future perspectives’, African Journal of Biotechnology, Vol. 7, pp. 4667-4676.

Google Scholar

1. Qaim, M 2009, ‘The Economics of Genetically Modified Crops’, Annual Review of Resource Economics, Vol. 1, pp. 665-694.

2. Chetty, L and Viljoen, CD 2007, ‘GM biotechnology: friend and foe?’, South African Journal of Science, Vol. 103, pp. 269-270.

3. Tacket, CO 2007, ‘Plant-Based Vaccines Against Diarrheal Diseases', Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, Vol. 118, pp. 79-87.

4. Conner, AJ, Glare, TR & Nap, JP 2003, ‘The release of genetically modified crops into the environment’, The Plant Journal, Vol. 33, pp. 19-46.

ScienceDirect

1. Daniell, H, J.Streatfield & Wycoff, K 2001, ‘Medical molecular farming: production of antibodies, biopharmaceuticals and edible vaccines in plants,’ TRENDS in Plant Science, Vol.6, pp. 219-226.

2. RR, Watson & VR, Preedy 2016, ‘Genetically Modified Crops: An Alternative Source of Livestock Feeding’, in R Deb, TV Raja, S Chakraborty, SK Gupta & U Singh, Genetically Modified Organisms in Food, Academic Press, London, pp. 291-295.

3. Kamle, S & Ali, S 2013, ‘Genetically modified crops: Detection strategies and biosafety issues’, Gene, Vol. 522, pp. 123-132.

4. Chen, H and Lin, Y 2013, ‘Promise and issues of genetically modified crops’, Current Opinion in Plant Biology, Vol. 16, pp. 255-260.

Part B

Introduction

Genetically modified crops (GMCs), can be defined as plants of which genes have been altered using genetic engineering, to express the desired trait which does not usually occur in them naturally. GM crops have been in use for hundreds of years, although the procedures involving altering genes in the laboratory to produce transgenic plants are quite recent. The production of GM crops has sparked countless debates amongst people, including the safety & health effects of using GM crops, and the effects of cultivating GM crops on the environment. Some benefits and risks of GM crops are highlighted below.

Body 1 (GM crops may be a sustainable way of providing food and income for reducing poverty)

• GM crops produce more food per plot of land, therefore, in regions that lack adequate land, these crops will provide food (Chetty and Viljoen, 2007).

• Genetically modified plants can increase the yielding ability of major food staples and assist in reducing poverty & malnutrition (Lipton, 2001).

• Genetic modification of plants is more directed towards the demands of rich farmers than poor people (Lipton, 2001).

• If only rich farmers were to benefit by the production of GM crops, the inequality between rich and poor will increase (Qaim, 2009).

Body 2 (Effect on quality of genetically modified crops)

• Genetically modified rice crops and maize crops showed improved productivity by having a tolerance for salinity and drought respectively (Malik and Saroha, 1999).

• GM crops engineered for herbicide tolerance and pest resistance are expected to meet part of the demand of increased population (Areal et al 2013).

• However, some ‘genetically aggressive’ species may completely wipe out locally rare species through continuous cycles of introgressive hybridization (Conner et al 2002).

Body 3 (Use of GM crops for Biopharmaceuticals)

• Genetically modifying plants has many advantages for making biopharmaceuticals to be used in clinical medicine (Daniell et al 2001).

• In one study, GM potatoes were used in the production of edible vaccines against E.coli  to fight diarrhoea, and the results brought up new ways to develop vaccines against diseases like tetanus and diphtheria (Tacket et al 1998).

• However, to date, only four antibodies have been made in plants that can be useful as human therapeutics (Daniell et al 2001).

Conclusion

Genetically modified crops, as controversial as they come, bring about various benefits to the burgeoning global population by providing countries with major staple foods aplenty, therefore reducing poverty & malnutrition. This growing industry has allowed crops to be resistant to disease and herbicides, as well as be used to create edible vaccines using common food staples such as potatoes. Albeit the obvious advantages, GM crops also bring about notable disadvantages, namely the rise of superweeds, and introgressive hybridization. In conclusion, weighing the pros and cons associated with GM crops and aiming towards the greater good may be a good approach in finalizing decisions about genetically modifying and producing transgenic crops.

Reference List

Areal, FJ,  Riesgo, L & Rodriguez-Cerezo, E 2013, ‘Crops and Soils Review; Economic and agroeconomic impact of commercialized GM crops: a meta-analysis’, Journal of Agricultural Science, Vol. 151, pp. 7-33.

Chetty, L and Viljoen, CD 2007, ‘GM biotechnology: friend and foe?’, South African Journal of Science, Vol. 103, pp. 269-270.

Conner, AJ, Glare, TR & Nap, JP 2003, ‘The release of genetically modified crops into the environment’, The Plant Journal, Vol. 33, pp. 19-46.

Daniell, H, J.Streatfield & Wycoff, K 2001, ‘Medical molecular farming: production of antibodies, biopharmaceuticals and edible vaccines in plants,’ TRENDS in Plant Science, Vol.6, pp. 219-226.

Lipton, M 2001, ‘Reviving Global Poverty Reduction: What Role for Genetically Modified Plants?’, Journal of International Development, Vol. 13, pp. 823-846.

Malik, VS and Saroha, MK 1999, ‘Marker gene controversy in transgenic plants’, Journal of Plant Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Vol. 8, pp. 1-13.

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