GMOs = Genetically Modified Organisms Broadly defined: any microbe, plant, or animal developed through breeding and selection Narrowly defined: organisms produced by gene transfer techniques
Uses of GMO’s Examples of GMOs are diverse, and include transgenic experimental animals such as mice, several fish species, transgenic plants, or various microscopic organisms altered for the purposes of genetic research or for the production of pharmaceuticals. The term "genetically modified organism" does not necessarily imply, but does include, transgenic substitution of genes from another species, and research is actively being conducted in this field. For example, genes for fluorescent proteins can be co-expressed with complex proteins in cultured cells to facilitate study by biologists, and modified organisms are used in researching the mechanisms of cancer and other diseases.
Transgenic microbes Bacteria were the first organisms to be modified in the laboratory, due to their simple genetics. These organisms are now used in a variety of tasks, and are particularly important in producing large amounts of pure human proteins for use in medicine. Genetically modified bacteria are used to produce the protein insulin, to treat diabetes. Similar bacteria have been used to produce clotting factors to treat hemophilia, and human growth hormone to treat various forms of dwarfism.
Transgenic animals Transgenic animals are animals produced with externally introduced genes. Transgenic animals can be used in many fields and as models to test the effect of certain genes on health. They can be used to produce "enhanced" versions of an animal. They can also be used as bioreactors: animals that produce an extra substance we want. Imagine having a transgenic cow that is modified to produce insulin in large quantities in its milk. This insulin can then be purified from the cows milk and used to treat people with diabetes mellitus.
Transgenic plants Transgenic plants have been developed for various purposes. Most of transgenic plants were created for research purposes and were not intended for eventual commercialization. From these few which have reached the market the most common transgenic traits include 1) resistance to pests or herbicides, 2) improved product shelf life. In the near future crops with improved nutritional value and with resistance to harsh environmental conditions might reach the marketplace. Since the first commercial cultivation of GM plants in 1996, GM plants tolerant to the herbicides glufosinate or glyphosate, and producing the Bt toxin, an insecticide, have dominated the agricultural seed market for corn and other crops (soybean, cotton).
Current examples of GMO Crops herbicide-resistant crops
GMO Crops on the Horizon Corn, soy, canola with improved nutritional qualities for animal feed Crops with specialty starches and oils for industrial processes Nutraceuticals “Golden Rice” Vaccines in plants Improved yields and stress tolerance
Advantages & Benefits of a GMO Insect and Disease Resistance One of the most important benefits of GMOs is their potential for adding to the healthiness and natural resistances of organisms. GMOs can potentially be created that have greater resistance to insect infestation and plant diseases. For instance, a certain strain of corn might produce a large amount of food tonnage, but be susceptible to insects, while another might repel the insects but produce a low amount of raw food tonnage. If the insect resistance of the lower yield plant were combined with the higher yield plant, a new GMO could be made that provides a large amount of food and resistance to insects. Another benefit of increased plant resistance is that it has the potential to reduce the amount of chemicals used on plants to protect against insects and disease, which can reduce pollution introduces to the environment.
Chemical Resistance Some plants are susceptible to being overrun or choked out by weeds that compete for the same nutrients. Another benefit of GMOs is the potential to increase the chemical resistance of food crops, allowing herbicides to be used that will harm any weeds, while leaving the desirable crop relatively unaffected. This, in turn, can increase crop yields.
Nutrients GMOs are especially important for developing countries where simple nutrition is of utmost concern. GMOs provide a potential for increasing the nutritional value of plants. For example, a region might rely heavily on a certain crop such as rice or corn, which may not have all the various vitamins and minerals necessary for proper nutrition. A plant that normally offers little or no vitamin A might be combined with the genes of another plant that is high in vitamin A. GMOs can introduce new sources of essential nutrients which can fight health problems caused by nutrient deficiencies.
Profitability The benefits of GMOs can have an additional affect of increasing the profitability of farming. Having plants that are better able to resist various maladies can increase crop yields while reducing the amount of money spent on efforts to protect the plants. According to Monsanto.com, farmers made an additional $10 billion in 2007 from planting GMOs, which is due to increased yields and reduced production costs.
Are genetically modified plant foods safe to eat? Foodstuffs made of genetically modified crops that are currently available (mainly maize, soybean, and oilseed rape) have been judged safe to eat, and the methods used to test them have been deemed appropriate. These conclusions represent the consensus of the scientific evidence surveyed by the International Council for Science (ICSU) and are consistent with the views of the World Health Organization (WHO).
CONCLUSION With the new helpful discoveries in agriculture and medicine using GMOs, and the world changing maybe we will need them in the future.