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This is a basic picture of the process of genetically changing a plant.  As you can see, this all starts with a bacteria or anything that has the desirable DNA for the enhancement of the plant.  The DNA is extracted and manipulated or cloned.  It then goes through transformation which is where the DNA replicates.  After replication is complete, it is then grown inside of a petri dish for the celss and tissues to grow.  It is then inserted into a plant by some means like a spray or a "gene gun" (contraption that injects the plant with the DNA).  Then that plant breeds other plants yielding the same traits. 




With genetic engineering, farmers are now capable of protecting their crops from toxins and pesticides.  Caterpillars, weeds, and other undesirables are incapable of penetrating some of the genetically altered crops.  This also leads to less tillage and soil erosion.  Without all the pesticides, the plants are free to grow in a clean soil without the use of lots of water.  Another more recent advantage is the capability of plants producing pharmaceuticals.  Some plants produce antibodies that fight against cancer, heart disease, and tooth decay.  In addition, some plants can produce vaccines for measles, hepatitis B, the Norwalk virus, diarrhea, and cholera.  So if ever you are stuck with one of these ailments, you should be thanking plants for their wonderful contribution to the medical field...right?




Several disadvantages are apparent in genetic engineering.  Many say that fruits and vegetables loose their nutritional value when they are genetically altered.  Others say that it leads to plant infertility which leads to a reduction in plant fitness which leads to a decrease in the amount of crops available in the market.  However, the main topic at hand is the possible disruption of entire food chains.  For example, some plants are now being made to produce plastic in their stems.  If the plastic plants were to be eaten by a rabbit and then the rabbit was eaten by a fox and then fungi consumed the fox when it died and then the fungi released it into the soil and the cycle starts up again, the plastic would be in each and every one of those stages.  This is not good.  



Possible Solution:


The Food and Drug Association claims that through their regulation of foods and drugs we will be safe from harmful foods.  Many critics of genetically altered foods have requested that the FDA should provide some sort of labeling on genetically altered foods.  However, congress said that there must be something tangibly different, not genetically different, in order for the FDA to provide labeling.  This means that the genetic preparation of such foods is not investigated by the FDA, only the final product.  However, if there is a difference in nutritional value, the amount of vitamins and minerals, etc. then the FDA is required to change the labeling.








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Genetic Engineering Citations

Comments (1)

gtobara@... said

at 10:53 pm on Feb 21, 2008

Vaccine produing plants! Plastic plants do not sound so delicious. I did not know that there had to be a tangible difference to label foods.

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