Genetically modified foods are foods which are obtained from genetically modified organisms. Genetic modifications of these organisms are done by new techniques known as genetic engineering.
Genetic modifications are done in such a way that these modifications will improve the desired qualities of organisms (plant/animal/micro organisms). Genetic engineering rather than traditional breeding techniques can impart desired changes in a quick and very accurate fashion. For example, scientists can isolate drought resistance gene and can insert the same gene into a different plant. The new genetically modified plant can grow in drought condition as now its genome contains drought resistance gene.
Advantages of Genetically Modified Food:
Every year enormous amount of foods are lost due to the pests, this also leads to financial losses to the farmers. Usually farmers use chemicals to control these pests, but these chemicals are hazardous to the environment as well as to the humans. Growing genetically modified crops such as BT corn or BT cotton will decrease the use of hazardous chemicals and also they will reduce the total cost of a crop.
Farmers use herbicides to kill or remove weeds from the crop fields. Herbicides are very expensive and also hazardous to the environment and also if proper care is not taken will harm the crops. Genetically modified herbicide resistant plants will help in preventing the environmental hazards. For example, farmers can grow Herbicide resistant Soybean.
Scientists can grow genetically modified crops which are resistant to viral, bacterial or fungal infections. For example Tobacco mosaic virus resistant tomato plants.
Gene responsible for freeze tolerance can be introduced into the plants; these new varieties of plants can tolerate freezing temperature that normally would have killed unmodified plants.
Drought / salinity resistant:
Exponentially world population is increasing so more and more land is utilized for housing therefore farmers need to grow crops in unsuitable lands. By the help of genetic engineering plants which can grow in conditions such as drought or high salt concentration in the soil are produced.
Cheap and effective medicines and vaccines can be produced in the plant using genetic engineering techniques. For example Tobacco plants are used to produce cancer vaccines.
Environment is facing a new problem by the contamination of soil or ground water by heavy metals. Genetically modified can be used to remove these heavy metals from the soil or water bodies these are known as phytoremediation.
Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Food:
Genetically modified crop plants may cause hazardous effect on unintended organisms.
For example: Bt corn pollen caused high mortality of monarch butterfly caterpillars.
People are concerned that insects will become resistant to pesticides, such as genetically modified crops with ability to produce pesticide on their own.
Herbicide resistance gene can be transferred from crop plant to weed producing "super weed". These super weeds like the genetically modified crop will be herbicide resistant.
Genetically modified food may cause unknown health risks in humans.
Genetically modified food can solve the hunger of the world and also can solve environmental problems by reducing the use of chemical herbicide and pesticides; they can also improve the health of human and also will reduce the cost of drugs.
But with some disadvantages, as our knowledge on genomics improves these disadvantages can be tackled more effectively so according to me genetic engineering or genetically modified food will become the technology of the future.
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