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  • Subject area(s): Engineering
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  • Published on: 7th September 2019
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There are have been massive debates and arguments about whether Genetically Modified Organisms are unsafe or innocuous. It is challenging to find out scientific data to support harm or innocuous of GMF. The reason for that there is not enough research on GMF on a big scale (Aysun, 2008). Notions about GMF has led to new scientific studies involving a National Academy of Sciences’ study. Genetically Modified Food has already been commercialized in many countries, especially there is a wide range of food such as tomatoes, potatoes, soybeans, corns, cotton, rice which people consume in vast amount. Genetically Modified Food has a lot of nutritious as consistency of the product is enriched and improved. Especially, Genetically modified crops and vegetables have specific qualities such as resistance to plant diseases and virus which other non - GM products do not have (Paul, 2005). Genetically  Modified Food has resistance to pest and insect which allows them to be stored, fresh for a long time, thus the production of GMF should be intensified to provide developing nations with long last high- quality food.

 The technology well-known as “genetic engineering” gives us an opportunity to transfer desirable characteristics from a non-related organism to another (Paul, 2005). Genetic engineering method is based on transfering ¨Bt¨ gene to another heterogeneous plant’s gene combination. The Bacillus thuringiensisinsecticidal toxin (Bt) gene, exude gram-positive spore-Bt toxins which are called ¨cry proteins¨ that have been used in insect-resistant biotechnology for many years and have a long historical background of safe use. There is a wide range of grown Bt products consumed all around the world encompassing Bt corn, Bt cotton, Bt canola and Bt potatoes. Bt rice is only semi-commercialized in Iran, the only transgenic rice allowed by the law for commercial production are three herbicide (glufosinate)-resistant lines used in the United States (Mendelsohn, 2003).

The total global area of GM crops exceeded 60 million ha in 2002. In the developing countries, more than 15 million has are being cultivated including GM crops. The USA provides 70% of the total, followed by Argentina, Canada, and China. Maize, soybean and cotton are among the GM crops that are most extensively cultivated. Over 60% of the total GM crop area belongs to Soybean. The author states that these crops were developed to allow better management of weeds and pests. They also encompass food like tomatoes and potatoes (Paul, 2005).One of the main reasons why farmers should focus on cultivating Genetically Modified Food is to lessen the use of chemical pesticide which has more disadvantages than advantages. Pesticides are substances that are used intentionally in agriculture, forestry, and horticulture and on public lands and in gardens to increase crop yields, improve the appearance of plant products, or to facilitate the care of open spaces. They are also referred to as plant protection products (PAN Germany, 2011). Over the last few decades, there has been a sharply increase in the amount of pesticides marketed for argicultural use. In the European Union alone, more than 200,000 tonnes of pesticides are used every year. The amount of pesticides used internationally has risen fifty-fold since 1950. China is now the country that both uses and produces the largest amounts of pesticides. In countries that are poor and do not have much industrial development, the effects of poisoning due to taking a risk to dangerous levels of pesticides in food are apparently more severe than in industrialized countries (Ecobichon, 2001). For example in Africa: in 2008 Nigeria reported that 112 people had been poisoned by pesticide-contaminated food. Two children died as a result. Another report from Nigeria (Organic Food Association) recorded 120 cases of poisoning of students who had eaten beans contaminated with lindane. Since Genetically Modified Food has a resistance to pests, farmers do not have to use pesticides and preclude side effects of pesticides.   

    There is an another benefit of Genetically Modified Food which is essential for developing countries where GMO are being grown as a basic resource of budget. It is true, as the author states that “present use of GM crops mostly bring a profit for the farmers. Insects and weeds can do a tangible damage to crops, thus the influence on the income of a farmer is a negative way” For example, the Colorado potato beetle can, during a short period, destroy a potato field and put  into a situation where they might be harmed which is problematical for farmers' business. GM Bt crops have an in-built defense the system against this pest, where the protein made from the inserted gene disrupts the insect’s digestive system. According to the author, “the advantage of planting Bt crops is that it can cut down the usage of insecticides” (Paul, 2005). This means less flow of chemicals or water from one place to another into the environment where insecticide pollution can lead to damage to other life creatures. An important point is that Bt crops and useful insects will be killed in large numbers than with other treatments have so far not been substantiated, although resistance to pest control is acknowledged to be a question of time. Refuges consisting non-transformed plants must be planted around GM crops to reduce selective pressures for development of pests resistant to, for example, Bt toxin. Future uses of GM crops may have more direct benefits for our society: new foods may be created that are better-tasting, contain specific ingredients to enhance our health, or manufacture life-saving compounds. These functional crops will differ significantly in content and metabolism from the original non-GM plants and initially will need to be tested thoroughly before general release (Paul, 2005).

 The development of insect-resistant crops seems an ideal contribution to sustainable agriculture and could have benefits such as savings in resources devoted to searching for pest insects, decreased applications of broad-spectrum insecticides, increased yields, and protection against certain fungal plant pathogens. Over thirty different crops have been genetically modified to generate the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) delta-endotoxin throughout their plant structure. Any pest that feeds on any part of these plants will be exposed to this Bt protein, and those susceptible to the toxin will be killed. Balanced against potential benefits of transgenetic Bt usage are possible drawbacks: loss of Bt-mediated control due to resistance among populations of the target pest, exchange of genetic material between the transgenic crop and related plant species and the impact of Bt-crops on non-target species, possibly including humans by means of GM foods. (Paul, 2005)

  The evidence is still far from proving if the  long-term consumption of GM foods posse a possible danger for human or animal health. However, there is the law and organization such as Food and Drug Administration which control impacts of commercialized-food chain. In Europe fresh GM produce is available in the market, Even in North America, most fruit and vegetables are not yet at hand as GM products. Europe cultivated less than 0.5% of the world’s GM crops, mostly maize for animal feed. The European Union has strict limitations on the planting of GM crops. GM crops that have been permitted can be grown, but apparently there is no market to sell EU-grown GM crops. The problem of coexistence with organic and conventional farming is an impediment for the issues further. European countries do, however, import GM crops and food products from abroad. Thousands of tons of GM soybean seed are imported to Europe as feed for livestock. Soybean also enters our markets as part of many processed food products. (Paul, 2005). Many countries are organizing their own rules to govern GMO trade. For instance, The European Union set up new rules to control the consumption of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), including GM crops. I agree with the author’s point that “when foods contain, consist of, or are produced from GMOs, they have to be labelled as such” because everyone has a freedom of choice. However, this way of distribution is made for accidental contamination of food sources by GMOs. As the author points out “in such cases, conventional food destined for human consumption is labelled as GM only if it contains more than 0.9% GM ingredients, thus, food products containing less than 0.9% of GM ingredients do not have to be labelled as GM food” (Paul, 2005).  As soy bean is used in many processed foods, it is likely that much of the food we eat today already contains some GM ingredients although it is not marked as GM food. Moreover, food originating from animals fed GM crops does not need to be marked as transgenic. The GMO debate sparked around many inter-linked issues and perspectives. All must be taken into account at a decision-making level. Nevertheless, GMOs are a reality of today’s market. I agree with the author’s point that “the need is thus for traceability and labelling to ensure safety and choice, as indeed has been proposed and enacted in Europe. However, labelling does not say anything about the safety of the product: if the product is not safe it will not be allowed onto the market.” A certain effect of gene transformation onto the vegetable was learned in Australia from an experiment performed at the national research organization Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. A decade-long research project focuses on developing genetically modified peas with pesticide resistance. Scientists took a gene from the common bean that synthesized a protein capable of killing sea weevil pests and transferred it to the pea (Paul, 2005). The protein tested in the bean does not cause an allergic reaction in mice or humans (Sheldon, 2015). There is a debate that GMO might affect animal’s lifespan. Another author points out that GMO crops do not affect animal reproduction (Sheldon, 2015).

  According to another research, there was no sign of the adverse effect of GMO, in general, there were no statistically significant differences within parameters observed. The goal of this systematic review was to collect data concerning the effects of diets containing GM maize, potato, soybean, rice, or triticale on animal health. There were conducted 12 long-term studies (of more than 90 days, up to 2 years in duration) and 12 multigenerational studies (from 2 to 5 generations). There were referenced the 90-day studies on GM feed for which long-term or multigenerational study data were available. Many features have been tested using biochemical analyses, histological examination of specific organs, hematology and the detection of transgenic DNA. The statistical results and methods have been concluded from each study. However, some small differences were observed, though these fell within the normal variation range of the considered parameter and thus had no biological or toxicological significance (Chelsea, 2012).

 From the very beginning of agriculture, farmers have had to fight weeds in order to preclude them from overgrowing cultivated crops. In the nineteenth century, herbicides were discovered that would inhibit or stop the growth of weeds. Herbicide use became part of modern practice in the last years but, while improving crop yields widely, some chemicals lead to environmental problems. Progressive usage of herbicides also caused that some weeds adopted herbicide-tolerant forms rendering those herbicides useless. In the 1980s, plant researchers signified and isolated single genes that were responsible for herbicide tolerance. After introduction of the genes into crop species, these plants received herbicide tolerance. Farmers now could spray their fields with herbicides to selectively control weeds and leave their crops unaffected. Opposite points have arisen concerning the use of herbicide-tolerant crops, mainly because of possible escape of the introduced genes through pollen or seed dispersal. However, many benefits have been documented: an increase in productivity, conservation of soil structure and an improved use of herbicides (Janusz, 2004). The author’s point that “GMO is beneficial because of tolerance to pest” but not with the idea that “a range of crop species have been made tolerant for glufosinate and many of these plants have been grown in small-scale field tests to evaluate performance under field conditions” because the research conditions do not provide an appropriate circumstances to growth of a crop.

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