Posted by Sandeep Shelke on March 30th, 2011
I always wondered about the GM (Genetically Modified) Crop Organisms. Many questions came to my mind, so thought of writing a small and simple article to make a clear understanding of GM:
What is GM Crop Organisms?
Genetic Modification(GM) or Genetic Engineering(GE) are used interchangeably.
In very simple language “GM is insertion/deletion of genes of one living/dead species into another living species.” This has been possible only after discovery of DNA that too in 1973. GM crop plants are created for human and animal consumption using Molecular biology techniques. These plants have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content.
Why to use GM Organisms?
Makes crops insects, pests resistant to increase the yield.
To remove weeds cost-effectively weed-killers are sprayed
Resisting plant diseases due to viruses, fungi and bacteria
To tolerate unexpected frost and reduce the crop loss
Growing plants in more salt content soil and inhospitable land.
To improve the nutrition contents in staple foot.
To have edible vaccines to reduce costs of storage and handling of traditional vaccines.
Cleaning heavy metal population from soil.
Slow softening in tomatoes as they ripen.
How does this GM work?
Pest resistance: One way to modify a plant genome is by inserting genes. For example, introducing a gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, which codes for a protein that is toxic to insects, gives plants resistance to insect predation.
Herbicide Tolerance: Plants are made resistant to glyphosate or glufosinate herbicides by introducing DNA from bacteria into their genomes.
Disease Resistance: Modifying genes to resists diseases.
Cold Tolerance: An antifreeze gene from cold water fish has been introduced into plants such as tobacco and potato. With this antifreeze gene, these plants are able to tolerate cold temperatures that normally would kill unmodified seedlings
Drought Tolerance: Creating plants by modifying genes that can withstand long period
Nutrition: Genes from other plants or bacteria are inserted into plant genomes to enhance production of important nutrients such as vitamins A and C and folic acid.
Pharmaceuticals: Developing edible vaccines in the form of tomatoes
Phytoremediation: Plants such as poplar trees have been genetically engineered to clean up heavy metal pollution
Antisense Technology: Deactivates the genes, preventing them from functioning.
Is GM Crop against Nature?
Its claimed that GM is better than traditional crop breeding. My simple argument is that traditional breeding is driven by nature at its pace, whereas in case GM the time required is reduced dramatically and, in my opinion, such laboratory test only things cant replace time tested ones immediately without due test.
Do we at all need GM Crops?
Yes we need food in much larger quantity than before. But we can not invite the blunder by releasing “genetic pollution”. There is no adequate data in support of GMO. We do not have understanding of its impact on environment and human health.
Read More “GM cant feed all”
We have seen ill-effects of Green revolution in Bharat.
Green revolution epicenter Punjab is now called “Cancer capital” for blindly adopting the technology. Field trials can be catastrophic and its proved here. [Read more about Punjab tragedy here, here and their resistance here.]
Total cancer patients detected between 2001 and 2009, in the rural areas numbered 23, 427, of which 16,730 died. At present, as many as 6,000 cancer patients were under treatment.
Not only that peacock, our national bird, is almost disappeared from fields now since 1990s.
Hurriedly adopted green revolution might have solved problems temporarily but produced more dangerous and life threatening effects. It disturbed bio-diversity. Today our eco-system is worsened without doubt and that to because of our hurried decisions in past.
I always think that we can get abundant food if we keep ourselves abreast to nature. Anything which is against nature will always be catastrophic. But that doesn’t mean I’m against experimenting, we should experiment it 100 times before introduced to field.
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