Gmos: the Future of Agriculture

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Date Submitted: 09/26/2012 10:20 PM

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GMOs: The Future of Agriculture

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are living systems that have been altered through recombinant DNA technology. Through this method, genetic material from one organism can be transferred into the another organism’s DNA. The result is a novel organism featuring desired traits.

Creating organisms with specific qualities is not a new concept. For centuries, farmers have used selective breeding when growing crops or raising livestock. By allowing certain plants or animals to reproduce, the traits of the next generation can be controlled. “Seedless” watermelon is an example of an product that was produced using this technique. By replanting only the watermelon seeds of plants with below average amounts of seeds, each subsequent generation contained fewer seeds.

The main problem with this method is that it is slow. It can take several generations of selective breeding before a desired result is obtained. This issue is eliminated with recombinant DNA technology because it directly alters the next generation.

Since its first use in 1973, recombinant DNA technology has completely changed the nature of commercial agriculture. It has made it possible to design crops that produce more fruit, resist herbicides, and survive droughts. These GMOs allow for more efficient use of farm land and help meet increasing world food demand.

It is best to think of GMOs as upgraded cars. When a V6 engine is replaced with a V12 engine, the car is still the same vehicle, but it is more powerful. Similarly, plants can be genetically modified to produce more fruit. While the fruit yield has been modified, it is still the same plant.

Since this technology is new, some people worry that these new organisms could present health implications. This fear is largely unfounded. Since the original purpose of the added genetic material is known, the way in which it will act in a GMO is highly predictable. For example, if strawberries are...