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NB3073 12 October 2006

Genetically Modified foods and Organisms

What the world face?
- Popuaton growth s key to ncrease the words popuaton from 6 bon at
the start of ths century to 7.9 to 19.9 bon by 2025. The ma|orty of ths
ncrease w occur n ess economcay deveoped countres.
- In spte of ncrease n crop producton of about 3% per annum (The Pew
Intatve, 2004), resutng from changes to agrcutura practce ncudng
pant breedng over the ast few decades, food nsecurty and the number of
peope suherng form under nutrton have ncreased.
- Estmated by 2025, shortage of foods to feed the word popuaton.
- Mcronutrent manutrton has a consderabe mpact on the heath and
productvty of peope n deveopng countres. For exp, ron decency ahects
some 3 bon peope, partcuary women and chdren 50% of pregnant
women and 40% of non-pregnant women and chdren n poor countres are
- About 3 mon chdren of pre-schoo age have vsbe eye damage resutng
form ts decency. An estmated 250,000 to 500,000 chdren go bnd as a
resut of vtamn A decency and about two thrds of these chdren de wthn
months of gong bnd (Rous et a., 2003).
- In weathy deveoped countres, consumers may spend, perhaps 10% of ther
ncome on food. They have good heath care and access to a wde range of
safe and heathy food; nutrent decences are nfrequent. Thus, the mpact
of GM food on the popuaton s unmportant.
- In poor countres, manutrton, nutrent decences and heath are more
common. Poor consumers typcay spend 70% of ther ncome on food, and
ther dets conssts prmary of stape foods. Whch ack of nutrents for good
- GM technoogy has the potenta to ncrease crop productvty, ncudng the
opportunty to grow corps n unfavorabe growng envronments, to reduce
pestcde appcatons and to mprove mcronutrent content and avaabty
on commony consumed foods.
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What are genetically modifed foods?
- Athough botechnoogy and genetc modcaton commony are used
nterchangeaby, GM s a speca set of technooges that ater the genetc
makeup of such vng organsms as anmas, pants, or bactera.
Botechnoogy a more generay term, refers to usng vng organsms or ther
components, such as enzymes, to make products that ncude wne, cheese,
beer and yoghurt.
- Combnng genes form dherent organsms s known as recombnant DNA
technoogy and the resutng organsms s sad to be n genetcay moded,
genetcay engneered, or transgenc. GM products (current or n the
ppene) ncude medcnes and vaccnes, foods and food ngredents, feeds,
and bers.
- Locatng genes for mportant strats, such as those conferrng nsect
resstance or desred nutrents, s one of the most mtng steps n the
process. However genome sequencng and dscovery programs for hundreds
of dherent organsm are generatng detaed wraps aong wth data anayzng
technooges to understand and use them.
- In 2003, about 167 mon acres (67.7 mon hectors) grown by 7 mon
farmers n 18 countres were panted wth transgenc crops, the prncpa ores
beng herbcde - and nsectcde - resstant soybeans, corn, cotton, and
canota, other crops grown commercay or ed-tested are a sweet potato
resstant to a vrus that coud decmate most of the Afrca harvest rce wth
ncreased ron and vtamns that may aevate chronc manutrton n Asan
Countres, and a varety of pants abe to survve weather extremes.
- Aso caed genetcay moded organsms (GMO).
- Invoves the nserton of DNA from one organsms nto another or modcaton
of an organsms DNA n order to acheve a desred trat.
- Arctc sh DNA + Strawberry >>> Astrawberry (resstant to frost)
- On the horzon are bananas that produce human vaccnes aganst nfectons
dseases such as hepatts B; sh that mature more qucky; furt and nut
trees that yed years, earer, and pants that produce new pastcs wth
unque propertes.
- In 2003, countres that grow 98% of the goba transgenc corps were the
Unted States (63%), Argentna (21%), Canada (6%), Braz (4%), and Chna
(4%), and South Afrca (1%). Athough growth s expected to pateau n
ndustrazed countres, t s ncreasng n deveopng countres.
- The next decade w see exponenta progress n GM product deveopment as
researchers gan ncreasng and unprecedented access to genomc resources
that are appcabe to organsms beyond the scope of ndvdua pro|ects.
- Technooges for genetcay modfyng (GM) foods oher dramatc promse for
meetng some areas of greatest chaenge for the 21
century. Lke a new
technooges, they aso poses some rsks, both known and unknown.
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- Controverses surroundng GM foods and crops commony focus on human
and envronmenta safety, abeng and consumer choce, nteectua
property rghts, ethcs, food securty poverty reducton, and envronmenta
Modifying Genes
- Aso caed recombnant DNA-technoogy moecuar conng, and genetc
1. Restrcton enzymes are used to cut DNA segments from one genome.
2. DNA gases are used to "paste" them nto another genome.
Widespread application of GM technology
- The tota area panted to GM crops was 2 mon ha n 1986, rsng to 68
mon ha n 2003.
- The man crop was soya, foowed by maze, cotton and canoa. It s estmated
that 55 mon farmers panted CM cotton n 2003.
- By for the argest producer of GM crops was the USA (66%) foowed by
Argentna (23%), Canada (6%), Chna (5.2%) and other countres producng
- Soybeans and corn are the top two most wdey grown corps (82% of a GM
corps harvested n 2000), foowed by cotton, rapeseed (or canoa) and
potatoes. About 74% of these GM crops were moded.
Advantages of GM foods
- Pest resstance
o Crop osses from nsect pests can be staggerng, resutng n
devastatng nanca oss for farmer and starvaton n deveopng
o Consumers do not wsh to eat food that has been treated wth
pestcdes because of potenta heath hazards, and run-oh of
agrcutura wastes from excessve use of pestcdes and fertzers can
poson the water suppy and cause harm to the envronment.
o Growng GM foods such as B.t. corn can hep emnate the appcaton
of chemca pestcde and reduce the cost of brngng a crop to market.
- Herbcde toerance
o For some crops, t s not cost-ehectve to remove needs by physca
means so farmers w often spray arge quanttes of dherent
herbcdes (weed-ker) to destroy weeds.
o Crop pants genetcay-engneered to be resstant to one very powerfu
herbcde coud hep prevent envronmenta damage by reducng the
amount of herbcde needed (reduce mutpe appcatons).
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o Reducng producton cost and mtng the dangers of agrcutura waste
- Dsease resstance
o Many vruses, fung and bactera may cause pant dseases. Pants
created by genetcay-engneered w be resstance to these dsease.
- Cod toerance
o An antfreeze gene form cod wafer sh has been ntroduced nto pants
such as tabocco and potato. Wth ths antfreeze gene, these pants are
abe to toerant cod temperature that normay woud k them.
- Drought toerance/ santy toerance
o As the woud popuaton grows and more and s utzed for housng
nstead of food producton, farmers w need to grown corps n
ocatons prevousy unsuted for pant cutvaton. Creatng pants that
can wth stand ong perods of drought or hgh sat content n so and
groundwater w hep peope to grow corps n formery nhosptabe
- Nutrton
o Manutrton s common n thrd woud countres due poverty and ony
rey as stape det. However, rce does not contan adequate amounts
of a necessary nutrents to prevent manutrton.
o If rce coud be genetcay engneered to contan addtona vtamns
and mneras, nutrent decences coud be aevated. For exp, goden
rce contanng an unsuay hgh content of beta-carotene (vtamn A)
has been created to overcome probem of bndness due to vtamn A
decency n thrd word countres.
- Pharmaceutcas
o Medcnes and vaccnes often are costy to produce and sometmes
requre speca storage condtons not ready avaabe n thrd word
countres. Researchers are workng to deveop edbe vaccnes n
tomatoes and potatoes.
o These edbe vaccnes w be much easer to shp, store and admnster
than tradtona n|ectabe vaccnes.
o Probems of dgeston durng devery to the target.
GM products: benefts and controversies
- Crop
o Enhanced taste and quaty
o Reduced maturaton tme
o Increased nutrent, yeds, and stress toerance.
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o Improved resstance to dsease, pests, and herbcdes.
o New products and growng technques.
- Anmas
o Increased resstance, productvty, hardness, and feed emcency
o Better yeds of meat, eggs and mk.
o Improved anma heath and dagnostc methods.
- Envronment
o Frendy boherbcdes and bonsectcde
o Conservaton of so, water and energy
o Boprocessng for forestry products
o Better natura waster management
o More emcent processng
- Socety
o Increased food securty for growng popuaton
- Safety
o Potenta human heath mpact: Aergens, transfer of antbotc
resstance markets, unknown ehects potenta envronmenta mpact:
unntended transfer of transgenes through cross-ponaton, unknown
ehects on other organsms (e.g., so mcrobes), and oss of ora and
fauna bodversty.
- Access and nteectua property
o Domnaton of word food producton by a few companes.
o Increasng dependence on ndustrazed natons by deveopng
o Bopracy- foregn expotaton of natura resources.
- Ethcs
o Voaton of natura organsms ntrnsc vaues
o Tamperng wth nature by mxng genes among speces
o Ob|ectves to consumng anma genes n pants and vce versa.
o Stress for anma.
- Labeng
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o Not mandatory n some countres (e.g. Unted State).
o Mxng GM crops wth non-GM confounds abeng attempts.
- Socety
o New advances may be skewed to nterest of rch countres.
Current Products
- Transgenc soybean
o Roundup eady
Resstant to Roundup Herbcde
Reduces the amount of herbcde apped to crops.
Atered fatty-acd content
Changes the nutrtona vaue
- Caroa
o Herbcde resstant
Better for the envronment
o Atered fatty-acd composton
A vaue-added food.
- Tomato
o Favv Savv Tomato
Deayed softenng
Consumers get a better testng tomato
o Frus resstant tomato
Resstant to pests
Decrease the amount of pestcde apped to crops.
- Corn
o B.t. corn
The Monarch Butterfy debates
NB3073 12 October 2006
- A mcroba gene added resuts n the crop beng resstant to nsects
- Does t mpact the Monarch Buttery?
- We panned experments are crtca to the survva of botechnoogy.
- Cotton
o Yes - cothes can be made form transgenc crops:
o Bogard cotton
Insect resstance
Comers pestcde usage.
- Squash
o Vrus resstant
Reduces crop ess due to nfestaton and decreases pestcde
- Papaya
o Vrus resstant
Restored the papaya ndustry n Hawa
Reduced crop oss
|apan Bocked mports of transgenc papaya.
- Goden Rce
o Botechnoogys poster chd?
A true vaue added food
Vtamn A enrched rve prevents dsease and bndness.
Goden n coor.
Potential nvironmental !a"ards
- Reduced ehectveness of pestcdes as nsects become resstant to
engneered toxns.
- Loss of bodversty.
- Harm to other organsms
o Poen form Bt corn was shown to cause hgh mortaty rates n
monarch buttery arvae. BUT foow-up studes have shown that the
exposure eves n the eds are neggbe.
- Gene transfer to non-target speces
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o Herbcde resstant pants and weeds coud cross breed and cerate
super weeds.
o To address ths one coud:
Create stere make pants that dont produce poen.
Engneer the pants so that poen doesnt contan the foregn
Create buher zones of non-GM crops around GM crops. The
buher crops woud not be harvested.
Potential !uman !ealth #is$s
- Aergens
o Genetc engneerng coud potenta ntroduce or create aergens.
o For exp, nsertng genes from a nut nto another pant coud be
dangerous for peope who are aergc to nuts.
- Unknown heath rsks
o Boogca processes nvove a ot of INTERACTIONS.
o It s often dmcut to dentfy every possbe nteracton.
- Economc Hazards
o Emnate of competton
GM seeds are patented
o Sucde seeds
Pants wth stere seeds that are nferte are created
Farmers are forced to buy seeds every year.
o However, some companes have reduced costs or donated GM seeds to
mpovershed natons.
Grating a balance
- So are GM foods a good or bad thng?
- It depend on each ndvdua case.
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- Consumers, the government and scentsts shoud be responsbe for
weghng the benets aganst the costs.
Improved nutrton Envronments Rsks
Resstance to decrease Heath Rsks
Reduced use of chemcas Economc Rsks