Threats due to genetically modified organisms

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: There has been much debate about unknown bad effects of genetically modified organisms that might lead to uncontrollable and irreparable damage to environment and ecosystems. Genetically modified organisms are incapable of natural propagation. Therefore, all the fears about them are unfounded. Hence we should not unnecessarily restrict ourselves in their usage.

Author: Dr Mahesh C. Jain is a practicing medical doctor and has written the book “Encounter of Science with Philosophy – A synthetic view”. The book begins with first chapter devoted to scientifically valid concept of God and then explains cosmic phenomena right from origin of nature and universe up to origin of life and evolution of man. The book includes several chapters devoted to auxiliary concepts and social sciences as corollaries to the concept of God. This is the only book that deals with subject matter of origin of nature and universe beginning from null (Zero or nothing). This article is inspired by author’s understanding of nature.
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Threats due to genetically modified organisms

  1. 1. Threats Due to Genetically Modified Organisms – A Realistic AssessmentSummary: There has been much debate about unknown bad effects of geneticallymodified organisms that might lead to uncontrollable and irreparable damage toenvironment and ecosystems. Genetically modified organisms are incapable ofnatural propagation. Therefore, all the fears about them are unfounded. Hence weshould not unnecessarily restrict ourselves in their usage.There has been much debate about safety of genetically modified crops buttrading of charges and countercharges for and against genetically modified cropscontinues unabated even after three decades (since 1986) of intense debate.Potential threats due to genetically modified crops – products of geneticengineering which generally involves introduction of distantly related genes into agenome, can be broadly classified into short term risks and long term risks.Short term risks are generally identified early and are easily amenable toexperimental verification. Therefore they are also often reported in literature.Hence short term risks are easily manageable before, during and after release ofgenetically modified crops for mass cultivation. Short term risks being easilyamenable to human regulation and control can’t be the reason for perpetualdebate. All that needs to be done is to manage short term risks as and whenencountered. Appropriate control measures can be easily applied at the level ofseed production.As far as long term risks are concerned, the principal threat is the threat ofuncontrollable, irreparable threat to ecosystems and environment. Presently thisis essentially a theoretical risk, since no such instance has actually been reportedattributable to genetically modified organisms. Genetically modified crops havebeen most extensively used in USA during the past two decades and no untowardlong term adverse effects have been noticed. In fact 90% of food in USA isderived from genetically modified crops.The principal reason for this is that for all biological species and varieties identityand integrity are big issues. All biological species and varieties tend to keep theiridentity and integrity in the midst of naturally occurring massive gene flow with in
  2. 2. any ecosystem. In fact it can be safely assumed that all the species and varieties inany ecosystem are exposed to all the genes present in the ecosystem, all the time.It is only by virtue of this natural ability to keep identity and integrity, variousspecies and varieties are able to do so.Therefore, technically speaking, a foreign gene may be relatively easy tointroduce within an organism belonging to a particular species or variety, as isbeing routinely done in the course of genetic engineering, but it is indeed verydifficult to sustain and propagate over prolonged periods of time. Later or soonerthe foreign gene shall be identified and weeded out with or without the use ofterminator technology. This understanding has led the author from a historicaldefinition of heredity to a rational definition of heredity which views heredity as adynamic phenomenon. The new definition of heredity is as under:- “Heredity is defined as the ability of the genome to reproduce parentalphenotype with high but not complete degree of fidelity”Use of the phrase “the ability of the genome” says it all.In the entire debate about genetically modified organisms we are concerned withill effects of naturally sustainable genetically modified organisms which normallyinvolves introduction of remotely related or rather unrelated genes into agenome. But what we overlook is the fact even naturally sustainable hybridsoccur only as exception to the rule. In hybrids compatibility or identity andintegrity issues are much less severe because hybridization always occurs amongclosely related species and varieties.Fitzpatrick says that besides the salamander hybrids, he only knows of one othersustainable animal hybrid and three sustainable plant hybrids. Salamanderhybrids are naturally sustainable hybrids between California Tiger Salamanderand Barred Tiger Salamander. Visit:-http://www.tititudorancea.com/z/salamander_species_interbreeding_hybrids.htmKeeping in view rarity of naturally occurring sustainable hybrids despite enormousopportunity, incidence of naturally sustainable genetically modified organismscan only be the rarest of rare events and can’t be regarded as a threat for allpractical purposes. As a matter of fact introduction of new species and varieties
  3. 3. from one geographical region into another poses much greater ecological andenvironmental threat and has happened many times in the past. In fact allepidemics and uncontrollable weeds such as congress grass in India can beattributed to such events.Hence, there can’t be any non-verifiable potential risk due to genetically modifiedorganisms that might catch us unguarded. Therefore, let us not fight thePhantom. Summing up, genetically modified organisms are reasonably safe for allenvironmental and ecological purposes and let us not be carried away by ourphobias. Author: Dr Mahesh C. Jain is a practicing medical doctor and has written the book “Encounter of Science with Philosophy – A synthetic view”. The book begins with first chapter devoted to scientifically valid concept of God and then explains cosmic phenomena right from origin of nature and universe up to origin of life and evolution of man. The book includes several chapters devoted to auxiliary concepts and social sciences as corollaries to the concept of God. This is the only book that deals with subject matter of origin of nature and universe beginning from null (Zero or nothing). This article is inspired by author’s understanding of nature.Visit:http:// www.sciencengod.com http://www.sciencengod.com/clipboard.htm

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