Table of Contents
Genetically modified organisms are animals, plants or microorganisms with altered genetic make-up through various recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid methods (Yang & Chen, 2016). The new species created are organisms that do not occur through crossbreeding or naturally. This research paper aims to outline the purposes of the genetically modified organisms, explain how they are created as well as to state some of the examples available in the joint supermarkets in the community.
History and Regulation
The history of genetically modified organisms dates back to 1973 when Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohem made the first organism (Yang & Chen, 2016). The scientists obtained a bacterium gene that was resistance to antibiotic, kanamycin and attached it with a plasmid. New bacteria were then induced with the aim of up-taking the altered plasmid, in which they were observed to survive in the antibiotic. Researchers further created a transgenic mouse when they introduced a new deoxyribonucleic acid into the embryo of the mouse in 1974.The second creation of the mice did not work well until eight years later when it became successful. Since then, more creations have been done by the scientists ranging from medication, microorganisms, plants, and animals. Most of these products are now available in the market for various purposes.
Genetically modified organisms have been regulated all over the word by different governments. The governments have always done this to control risks which are associated with such organisms on human beings. Every country has a distinct regulation on genetically modified organisms, especially in Europe and the United States. The variance in the rules always depends on the state’s use of the genetically modified organisms. For instance, European Union has approved a few genetically modified products to be cultivated while a good number are allowed for importation and processing.
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Purpose of Genetic Engineering
Genetically modified organisms have been used for various purposes which range from medical research to agricultural production. According to Shiva et al. (2014), genetic engineering has been used to create genetically modified products such as microbes, plants, and animals. For instance, modified bacteria have been employed in testing synthetic approaches and in new nucleotide creation. Additionally, the organisms have been used to produce pure human proteins used for medication in hospitals such as insulin for management of diabetes and human growth hormone to manage dwarfism. The use of bacteria has been based on their ease of modification, and they were the first organisms to be modified (Shiva et al., 2014). Similarly, the genetically modified virus has been used to control crop diseases and to produce genes that cure human diseases in gene therapy such as Parkinson’s disease, sickle cell anemia, and genetic disorder Leber’s congenital amaurosis. For instance, in 2007, the citrus greening disease was combated using spinach defensing protein which was injected in the affected vegetables (Shiva et al., 2014). Other microorganisms have also been used in the production of various enzymes that play a vital role in the manufacturing industry, especially the food processing industries. Some of the industrial products derived from microorganisms include alpha amylase from bacteria used for breaking starch, chymosin from fungi for milk clotting in the milk industry, and pectinesterase from fungi for improvement of the clarity of fruit juice clarity.
Importantly, genetic engineering has played a distinctive role in plant growth and development. It has been used to develop transgenic plants and genetically modified crops as well as playing a crucial role in plant conservation. These modifications aim to improve quality, yield or more resistant crops.
Transgenic plants. Scientific research has led to modification of many plants. The change has created new plant characteristics such as color variation. Plants have always been modified in the realization of the functions of various genes. For example, roses were modified in Japan and Australia in 2004 that allowed delphinidin to work in them. The resultant flowers were of high value and had been sold in Japan, Canada and the United States. The colored lavender carnations were also improved in the same way. Production of biopharmaceuticals has also been increased through the production of genetically modified organisms. Such has been done with algae Chlamydomonas reiharttii, duckweed Lemna minor, and Physcomitrella patens. For example, therapeutics were produced in Israel through cultured transgenic tobacco and carrots.
Genetically modified crops. The deoxyribonucleic acid of the crops has been altered through genetic engineering methods to develop plants used in agriculture. New traits have been introduced in the plants to help in boosting their characteristics. For instance, foods crops have been modified to be more resistant to diseases, pests, and harsh environmental conditions as well as to improve their nutrients content.
Conservation plants. Plant species which are threatened by extinction have been conserved through genetically modified organisms. Most trees are affected by diseases and invasive plants such as plane trees in Europe. As a result, genetic engineering has allowed the conservation of trees like papaya trees that are affected by papaya ringrot virus. It not only helps to protect the plants from extinction but also promote their commercialization.
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In mammals, scientists have modified animals such as rats, mice, sheep, pigs, and rabbits for various reasons that include:
Research purposes. The animals have been employed as experimental models in biomedical research testing. The animals have played an essential role in the discovery of cures for diseases. Certain proteins can be developed through gene engineering for medical treatments. For instance, humans have been treated with human-alpha-1-antitrypsin, developed from pigs, in cases where its deficiency occurs (Shiva et al., 2014).
Human therapeutics production. Transgenic animals have been generated to produce biotherapeutics. For a long time, first human drugs have been produced from transgenic animals such goats. For instance, atryn which is an anticoagulant used in human surgery has been produced from transgenic goats’ milk.
Food quality traits. Roundworm genes were used in 2006 to produce omega-3-fatty acids (Shiva et al., 2014). Additionally, Canadians created Enviropig which was enhanced from Yorkshire pigs. The animals were able to digest cereal grain phosphorus because of the phytase enzyme which they were able to produce after gene alteration. Such pigs help in reducing phosphorus water pollution due to low excretion. Moreover, scientists from China genetically engineered dairy cows with human genes to produce more milk with the same qualities as human milk. The milk was to be used by mothers to have little breast milk for their infants and did not prefer putting their babies on formula milk. Goats were also modified to produce more milk with high-quality proteins.
Conservative purpose. European wild rabbits have been conserved in Australia and Liberia through the use of genetically modified organisms. The genetically modified organism employed in the two countries was a myxoma virus. The purpose was to prevent species extinction in Europe while in Australia it was applied as a contraceptive to regulate the population of the rabbits (Shiva et al., 2014).
Creation of Genetically Modified Organisms
Fraiture, Herman, De Loose, Debode, and Roosens (2017) outlined steps involved in the making of genetically engineered organisms. First, the needed trait is identified and isolated. The trait is then inserted into the organism of choice and propagated. Scientists have devised different methods of genetic manipulation. The gene a can be attached to a virus or the extra deoxyribonucleic acid can be inserted into the nucleus of the organism of choice. Electroporation can be employed where an electric pulse is used to introduce deoxyribonucleic acid into the cell of another organism, or a gene gun can be used to fire small particles.
Genetically Modified Foods in Supermarkets
Genetically modified foods are contained in various supermarkets across the United States. Imperative to note, these foods are derived from various organisms and serve different purposes. For instance, most US supermarkets sell potatoes and corn which have bacteria genes, tomatoes with flounder genes, fish containing cattle growth genes, and pig products containing human growth genes. This array of products ranging from plant to animal sources demonstrates how genetic engineering has been widely applied to meet human needs.
- Fraiture, M. A., Herman, P., De Loose, M., Debode, F., & Roosens, N. H. (2017). How can we better detect unauthorized GMOs in food and feed chains?. Trends in Biotechnology.
- Shiva, V., Lappé, F. M., Barlow, M., Barua, D., Dürr, H., Sivaraksa, S., … & Ware, A. (2014). Choice of monsanto betrays world food prize purpose, say, global leaders.
- Yang, Y. T., & Chen, B. (2016). Governing GMOs in the USA: science, law and public health. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 96(6), 1851-1855.