GM TECHNOLOGY

Genetic Engineering, also called Genetic Modification, is the direct manipulation of an organism's genome using biotechnology. New DNA may be inserted in the host genome by isolating and copying the genetic material of interest using molecular cloning methods to generate a DNA sequence, or by synthesizing the DNA, and then inserting this construct into the host organism. An organism that is generated through genetic engineering is considered to be a genetically modified organism (GMO). Genetic engineering techniques have been applied in numerous fields including:  Research  Agriculture  Industrial biotechnology  Medicine One of the best-known and controversial applications of genetic engineering is the creation and use of Genetically Modified Crops.

ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT OF GM CROPS:

The management of GM crops refers to a broad spectrum co-ordination and symmetrical monitoring of crops before and after their introduction in an agricultural system with least harmful impacts on local flora and fauna. It is necessary to bring out a maximum of socioeconomic benefits from GM crops. The management of genetic engineering concerns the approaches taken by governments to assess and manage the risks associated with the development and release of genetically modified crops. There are differences in the management of GM crops between countries. Management varies in a given country depending on the intended use of the products of the genetic engineering. For example, a crop not intended for food use is generally not reviewed by authorities responsible for food safety. RISK ASSESMENT: Transgenic crops do not present new categories of environmental risk compared to conventional methods of crop improvement. “However, with the long-term trend toward increased capacity to introduce complex novel traits into the plants, the associated potential hazards, and risks, while not different in kind, may nonetheless be novel” (National Research Council NRC 2002, p. 63). The nature of the risks varies depending on:  the characteristics of the crop  the ecological system in which it is grown  the way it is managed  the private and public rules governing its use

The environmental risk assessment of GM crops could be performed in two steps:  In the first step, all testing experiments in the laboratory and greenhouse mainly focus on the compatibility between transgenic crops and all of its wild relatives found in the areas to be released, pollen behavior and impacts on some target or non-target organisms in order to determine primary bases for the possible environmental risks.  In the second step, the out crossing rate between transgenic crops and wild relatives or non-transgenic cultivars, the competitiveness with conventional cultivars and weeds, and their persistence in the fields should be mainly evaluated. VALUATING ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF GM CROPS: The possible impact of genetically modified (GM) crops on biodiversity shows that so far there is no consensus on generally accepted assessment criteria for environmental harm. This debate stems primarily not from a shortage of data, but rather from the absence of criteria for assessing the effects of GM plants on biodiversity. Since there are no exact assessment criteria, regulatory decision making processes are often not transparent and can be difficult to understand. This increases the danger that decisions on environmental risks from GM plants may appear arbitrary. The VERDI Project (Valuating environmental impacts of genetically modified crops – ecological and ethical criteria for regulatory decision-making) is a interdisciplinary collaboration between biosafety experts and risk ethicists. Its aim is to develop recommendations for decision makers and regulatory authorities, thus helping to improve the management of GM crops. Ultimately, any decision by regulatory authorities on what they judge being unacceptable is based on the relevant legal frameworks. Usually, such decisions are
taken in a political context that weighs scientific, ethical and economical criteria with cultural, religious, aesthetic and other relevant social beliefs and practices.

Terms such as risk and safety are linked to a conception of damage. Damage, however, cannot be defined on a purely scientific basis. The normative character of the term “damage” implies that both choice and definition of what constitutes a risk are impossible without a value judgment. Damage has thus to be defined together with an ethical evaluation as ecological analyses alone cannot discover “correct” or “objective” criteria for damage. MANGEMENT ISSUES: Pakistan although has a vast network of biotechnology research institutes, but, still lags behind in adopting this technology in domestic agricultural system owing a great deal to delay in the formulation and implementation of regulatory guidelines and principles. The GM events are evaluated before their commercialization. However, no monitoring system operates to evaluate the interactions of a GM event after its release into environment. ‘‘The compositional analysis regarding the biosafety aspects of GM and non GM foods is not a pre evaluation criterion as is manifested in biosafety rules and

regulations 2005 which assert mainly upon the prevention of flow of transgenes and

increase in yields as compared to non GM plants (e.g. case of MON531 GM cotton)’’. The present research is designed to cover four prime areas of management viz:  Environmental biosecurity of GM crops  Food safety of conventional grains as a pre text to GM food crop introduction  Legal regulatory issues  Socioeconomic impacts of GM crops in Pakistan It is designed to serve as a template for resolving environmental and legal issues as well as presenting a comparative compositional biosafety and biosecurity insight for GM and non GM plants and their products. In the agricultural landscape of Pakistan, the national regulatory mechanism carries out preapproval assessment of proposed/submitted GM events from multinational companies and domestic research institutes. However, many loopholes exist in the structural body of legislations and implementation of legal requirements for precommercialization evaluation. Moreover, a monitoring system for the environmental and biosafety aspects of commercialized GM events is non-existent.
Transparency and communication of evaluation results/data with public is also lacking.

The study consists of review and experimental portions and is designed to: a) Present a review of global and European legal documents related with the environmental management scheme of GM crops. b) Compare with regulatory framework and papers of Pakistan for the
identification of shortcomings and recommendations for the establishment of an efficient monitoring authority in the country. c) Structure a national environmental monitoring plan involving prime

d) e) f) g)

stakeholders in the post commercialization scenario of GM crop cultures. Explore socioeconomic impacts of representative GM crop events in Pakistan. Carry out a compositional analysis of Conventional Food crop hybrids to evaluate the need for growing GM counterpart from a biosafety perspective. Evaluate profitability comparison of GM and non GM crop culture with elaboration by two farm-level studies. Determine the extent and scope of potential bio hazard of GM crop by performing a field experiment.

 ETHICAL ISSUES ABOUT GM CROPS:
Critics have objected to use of genetic engineering per se on several grounds, including ethical concerns, ecological concerns, and economic concerns raised by the fact GM techniques and GM organisms are subject to intellectual property law. GMOs also are involved in controversies over GM food with respect to:  Whether food produced from GM crops is safe?  Whether it should be labeled?  Whether GM crops are needed to address the world's food needs?

“Intrinsic Objections” Involve claims that developing and using GM technology is inherently wrong regardless of the results of doing so. “Extrinsic Objections” Claims that the GM technology is not inherently wrong but can be wrong if it causes or contributes to morally unacceptable situations or outcomes. Philosophers, ethicists, and others have expressed four types of objections to GM technology: 1) Objections based on conceptions of the divine order or of nature as independent of humans and valuable in itself:  fundamentally unnatural  fundamental assault on nature by disrespecting the inherent character  constitutes a sacrilegious effort to redesign  violate the sanctity or intrinsic character of life 2) Objections based on level of risk to human physical well-being :  unacceptable risk of causing severe and irremediable ecological harm  another manifestation of the human hubris that led to massive environmental degradation  promotes industrial farming 3) Objections based on considerations of equity, fairness, or justice:  Risks from use of GM technologies are borne mainly by persons exposed to them  disproportionately benefit the relatively small groups who monopolize sources through patents or other forms of intellectual property rights  risk about marginal benefits  increases economic inequality within countries 4) Objections based on considerations of transparency and accountability in decision-making:  scientific expertise needed to develop and assess the potential physical risks and benefits of the technology  large-scale effects because of the patterns of its use The use of genetically modified organisms is a practice still in its infancy. The long-term effects of this technology are yet to be seen, and thus we must proceed with caution as we develop our practices and guidelines: Effects on the Environment:  Herbicide Use and Resistance.  Effects on Untargeted Species. Effects on Human Health:  Allergies.  Long-Term Effects.  New Proteins.  Food Additives.

GM TECHNOLOGY IN PAKISTAN:

The fact remains that world needs at least 70 per cent more food by 2050. About 70 per cent of the world’s poor are dependent on agriculture – some view this as a problem, others as an opportunity, given the enormous potential of both conventional and the new biotechnology applications to make a significant contribution to the alleviation of poverty and hunger and to doubling food, feed and fiber production by 2050. Like many other countries, Pakistan is willing to introduce the GM Crops on its lands. However, many problems associated in launching GM Technology are being faced by the country. Some of these are general issues raised on the technology’s reliability and some are particularly local.

Problems and aspects:
a) b) c) d) e) f) g) h) Ethical issues. Religious issues. People have very little information. Researchers need funds. Lack of proper platform. Cross-Pollination is difficult to be refrained. Company’s Monopolies. Contamination of the Non-GM Crop.

LIMITATIONS OF CONVENTIONAL BREEDING
AND THEIR SOLUTIONS BY GM

TECH:

Conventional plant breeding has been going on for hundreds of years, and is still commonly used today. Early farmers discovered that some crop plants could be artificially mated or cross-pollinated to increase yields. Desirable characteristics from different parent plants could also be combined in the offspring. The selection for features such as faster growth, higher yields, pest and disease resistance, larger seeds, or sweeter fruits has dramatically changed domesticated plant species compared to their wild relatives. However, conventional breeding has been and is still a very slow process, because the breeder has to wait for long period to prepare a selective pure line. This problem and many others have been tackled down by modern GM Technology. Compared with GM Technology our Conventional Breeding:  Have a barrier of gene transfer. The limitation of this method is that the selected traits/characters are opted only from the same or closely related variety and we cannot go beyond that barrier while Genetic Engineering has got rid us of this problem by allowing the transfer of characters through direct transfer of genes between closely or even distantly related species (even between kingdoms). Have little or no guarantee that the next generation would carry the desired character while GM organism produced through Genetic Engineering always has the character of our interest because it carries the specific gene for it which has been inserted into the organism’s genome.

Requires a number of crosses to bring about a single desired character in the

new variety while Genetic Engineering being a modern and most advanced scientific approach does not require such long time because the specific gene for a character is inserted specifically and it expresses itself in the very next generation. May results in the transfer of undesired characters along with the desired one which are screened in a number of crosses which still is not hundred percent and the so called pure line may have the unwanted character while Genetic Engineering always results in specific character transfer and thereby get rids of conventional crossing and back crossing through specific gene insertion.

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