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Genetically Modified Food - Gmos

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Applied Microbiology Essay - GMOs

Genetically modified crops are plants made to be more resistant than those not modified, and whose production and use is facing controversy not only in the scientific community but with worried consumers and GMO defenders creating divisions amongst those groups.

This concept originate from an American company, Monsanto, who thanks to genetic manipulation immunised a plant against its own pesticide: this manipulation allowed the company to have their place in an already fragmented market, as selling this new type of seeds made them precursors in the field.

Besides, other transgenes were set so the plant can defend itself against insects and pests. As a result, there is an exponential increase of GMO cultivating surfaces in the world these past few years, essentially from rich farmers.

To this day, the few GMO and transgenes are cultivated on surfaces counting several millions of hectares. Moreover, the cultivators of these plants are from rich or emerging countries and consequently have the means of carrying these activities out.

However, the debate about GMO is open since long: even though there is a lack of concrete and definite proof acceptable to all that they are without danger, their consumption doesn’t decrease with farm animals.

Their commercialisation is reglemented as there are requirements to follow before they are put on the market, more or less strict depending on the country. However, research institutions conducting studies are accused of lacking objectivity, as numerous cases of conflict of interest were reported. The question arises as to whether or not there was impartiality, and as a result, whether the decisions are valid or not. They are judged dangerous by the majority of European asked nevertheless.

A lot of arguments plead in favour of GMO production, as others pleads against it. The future of GO is questioned, particularly about its limits: Should we focus on economic interests, without knowing the long-term effects? This applies as much to man as it applies to the food chain in nature: the insect that consumes a transgenic plant is eaten by a bird that will be eaten by other animals, as we do not know what changes this will cause on any level. Farmers, seed producers, scientists, doctors amongst others do not necessarily agree, as the enthusiasm is largely tempered by two facts: - The function of 95% of the genome isn’t know as it does not contain any coding sequence. - Access to the gene is not always enough to explain its role, its regulation, its interaction with other genes. The environment influences the expression of the genetic program and modulates it. If genes are the keys to living beings, they are not unique determinants that govern everything as life cannot be reduced to genes alone.

Concerning GMOs and Man, a pro would be that all tests on transgenic maize, showed their perfect safety for humans as they were innocuous. Although a con would be that it can take decades before the toxic effects of a product arise. For example, people who breathe asbestos dust take 10 to 20 years before developing cancer. Nothing says that repeated consumption of transgenic maize will not have long-term effects. In some cases the cattle that eat GM soya become, after some time, insensitive to the action of drugs such as antibiotics. No one can say whether the man who will eat the meat of these animals will not become, too insensitive to the drug. On the other hand, we can, GM crops could be hugely beneficial, providing healthier food, and even pharmaceutical products through biotechnology, obtain plants producing very valuable drugs for health and very difficult to produce otherwise.

Looking at it from another point of view, Growing GM crops may be harmful to the environment and dangerous to human health: The corn Monsanto, as other GMOs, has been tested for three months on rats. This poses several problems: first of all, these tests were carried out over too short a period; we should at least have to look at the effects of the corn modified on two generations. Moreover, Monsanto concludes, surprisingly, that, when GMOs operate physiological changes in the body (weight gain ...) without an obvious pathology occurring, meaning they do not have adverse effects on the body. However, tests conducted by the researcher Gilles-Éric Séralini clearly show that there are effects on man, whose impacts have never been evaluated. Corn Monsanto 810 secretes, for example, a bacterial natural toxin that is passed to the consumer, without anyone really knowing what it can bring, causing huge health risks

GMO aren’t without causing trouble to the environment either: created to resist massive chemical treatments, they are responsible for degrading soil quality as well as water. Suppressing the use of insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers, contributes to the protection of the environment, especially water bodies, and to get healthier foods.

This is far from enough, as we know a colza that transmitted through pollination, resistance to herbicides to weeds, making them resistant: these are now virtually indestructible. It is also known that, in the roots of plants grow specific bacteria. Or transgenic plants have their own, what will be the influence of these new bacteria on the soil and field? Moreover, the natural insecticide (protein) produced by the transgenic maize, after being absorbed by the corn borer on the long run, could lead to the natural selection of resistant corn borer and therefore making them indestructible! Finally, many scientists fear that these plants do give birth, also by natural selection, to new virus capable of developing unknown and difficult to combat diseases. Similarly, producing a drug engineered with plants and releasing them into the wild, can promote a natural selection of viruses, resistant bacteria therefore impossible to fight, unless a new drug is discovered, which is extremely expensive.

GMO genes are spreading and contaminating the area with a radius of several dozen kilometers. If one day prove



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