Social and Ethical Implications of Genetically Modified Crops

Biological Basis

Crops are among the most mentioned types of organisms feature in GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) debates. To create GMCs, biologists remove or add genes to normal crops using various genetic engineering methods like microinjection or gene guns. Biolistics, or gene guns, are used in directing high energy-radiations or particles against particular genes in normal plant cells. The radiations or particles carry with them foreign DNA that they impose on the genes under pressure. The foreign DNA integrates into the normal crops’ DNA within their cells’ nuclei (Gehring, 2003).

The transformation of the genes of normal crops can be executed via a method mediated by Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Particular agrobacteria are naturally capable of transferring genes. They insert, or put, their genes onto crop hosts. That makes GMC cells to proliferate on the crop area near soil. Tumor development genetic information encodes on plasmids, which are circular, mobile fragments of DNA.

Agrobacteria transfers T-DNA onto particular plant genomes randomly.  The T-DNA can be taken out and substituted by preferred foreign genes. That means the agrobacteria serves as vector that enables the transfer of the genes into particular plants. Gene transfers need promoters that are particular to the host areas or the areas of gene expression (Gehring, 2003). Transgenic GMCs have the genes that are introduced to them extracted from species that are dissimilar to them. Cisgenic GMCs have the genes that are introduced to them extracted from similar species. Subgenic GMCs have the genes that are introduced to them extracted from similar species.

The biological modification of crops gives rise to agricultural plants that give higher yields at reduced production costs. The plants thrive even without having pesticides used on them. Some of the plants have marked medicinal and therapeutical benefits. They mature faster than their natural versions, and tolerate excessive levels of minerals such as salt and aluminum and related plant stressors (Soulé, Orians & Society for Conservation Biology, 2001). Various GMCs are capable of giving large quantities of bioplastic and ornamental products.

Social and Ethical Implications

            The possible health risks that GMCs pose to individuals include potentially exposing them to fresh allergens in the food items derived from them. The food items potentially expose individuals to conveying of genes that resist antibiotics to their gut flora (Alford & Hill, 2003). Horizontal transfers of antibiotic resistance, herbicides and pesticides to diverse organisms via GMC-related processes put individuals at increased risks and bring about ecological imbalances. The imbalances have the capacity of allowed unchecked growth of plants that were formerly innocuous.

The plants’ unchecked growth may facilitate the spreading of particular diseases, as well as infections, among diverse organisms (Sherlock & Morrey, 2002). The vertical transfer of genes associated with some GMC-related processes presents marked risks. When new transgenes are introduced into given species, they propagate them. Even then, the transgenes ultimately put the species’ viability at risk.

There is continued concern that when private individuals, or organizations, develop particular GMCs, they lay claim to them and fail to allow the public to benefit from them at costs that are reasonable. If the private GMC developers fail to share the GMCs they create with the public at costs that are reasonable, there is a danger that the production of GMCs may harm the environment and the economy (Alford & Hill, 2003). That is because the developers may be motivated to engage in monoculture GMC production practices.

GMCs are associated with cross-pollination. Cross pollination presents difficulties in farming practices where GMC genes get transferred to other crops. Cross-pollination may give rise to weeds that are overzealous (Sherlock & Morrey, 2002). Such weeds are challenging to contain. GMCs presents marked moral concerns with respect to food chains as well as webs. There are concerns that the herbicides and pesticides used in the production of GMCs and their cultivation can harm or eliminate other species or organisms (Alford & Hill, 2003).

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