GMO - Genetically Modified Organisms Term Paper

GMO - Genetically Modified Organisms

Genetically modified organisms are organisms of which the genome is altered through genetic engineering. In other words, the DNA from an organism is modified in a laboratory, and then inserted into another organism's genome for the purpose of producing traits or phenotypes that would be useful in the new organism. This technology has been used on life forms for decades, but the area in which it is still the most controversial is food. In addition to the ethics, conservation, and poverty reduction issues, concerns raised regarding this technology revolve around human and environmental safety.

Proponents of the technology hold that there is no danger for any age group in genetically modified foods. Indeed, the beneficial and longer-lasting properties created in these foods are seen as optimal for human food supply and safety. Opponents however hold that there is no way in which unforeseen consequences of genetically modified foods can be estimated. A strain of corn developed via this technology may for example be toxic only to insects, but when developed further could become harmful to human beings as well. Furthermore, these crops could exhaust soil to such a degree that no more crops could be developed there, and thus contribute to rather than alleviate the problem of world hunger.

Another problem cited by opponents is the danger to biodiversity that might be created by GMO's. Genetically modifying foods may have a negative impact on the environment by destroying biodiversity, according to this group. Proponents however argue that biodiversity is encouraged rather than destroyed by genetic engineering. Indeed, they place it in the same category with modifications that have been brought about in nature itself in order to adjust to different environments, or by human beings in the past.

Biological engineering is a very controversial issue, and it appears that it will remain so for a long time, even while the field grows and develops beyond attempts to stop it.

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