Issues on Genetically Modified Foods

            Assess the Impact of Genetically Modified Foods.

             The British Government describes genetic modification as 'the altering of the genetic material in that organism in a way that does not occur naturally or natural recombination or both". Therefore genetic modification produces organisms that would not occur in nature, unlike farming methods such as selective breeding which could occur naturally. To opposers of GM foods this constitutes a fundamental difference. Genetic modification is when DNA fragments are transferred into different cells through either the natural ability of agrobacterium, ballistic impregnation, electroporation or using microscopic crystals to puncture holes in the cells. .

             One complaint against GM foods is the imprecise ways in which genes are combined, as listed above. Plants are made up of between 20 000 and 80 000 genes and we know very little about how these genes are activated as an integrated whole. Genes and the proteins they make do not work in isolation and are extremely complex. Nevertheless, scientists have been putting barely genes into wheat to make it disease-resistant for most of this century. GM technology is not as new as it appears. .

             New advances in GM technology, however, lean toward a more unprecedented type of experiment. One example is of strawberries been made able to resist frost-damage through inserting a gene from a cold-water fish. In cases such as this we are not even dealing with gene transference from the same kingdom. What people do not realise is that there are almost identical genes found in plants and animals, that there is a commonplace inheritance during evolution and in some cases there are natural mechanisms for transferring genes between unrelated species (in agrobacterium, for example). To illustrate this, humans share 50% of their genes with bananas. Therefore gene transferral between different species or, in fact, between different kingdoms, is not as unnatural as it sounds.

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