Year 10 Science AB Task


With average amounts of fertiliser. refers to using organisms or their components. feeds. so that when the farmer sprays the area for weeds the food crop is left intact and everything else is wiped out. and yogurt.ornl.com/discoveryguides/gmfood/overview. In the tropics. Crops could be made resistant to herbicides. Biotechnology. More effective weed control could lead to less herbicide being used. and the resulting organism is said to be "genetically modified.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/gmfood.shtml 19/05/2011 http://www. However. which would be better for the environment and cheaper for farmers. or bacteria." "genetically engineered. and fibres.Although "biotechnology" and "genetic modification" commonly are used interchangeably. such as enzymes." or "transgenic.csa. on the other hand. Locating genes for important traits—such as those conferring insect resistance or desired nutrients—is one of the most limiting steps in the process.2 Genetically modified crops could contain the means to protect themselves against harmful insects and specific diseases. foods and food ingredients." GM products (current or those in development) include medicines and vaccines. Or they could grow significantly faster. beer. a more general term. genome sequencing and discovery programs for hundreds of organisms are generating detailed maps along with data-analysing technologies to understand and use them. can create plants with the exact desired trait very rapidly and with great accuracy. there are a lot more pests. This would reduce the amount of protective chemicals used. crops could produce super yields.php 19/05/2011 3 Australian Knowledge: Genetically Modified Foods – S and L Brodie 20/05/2011 . but conventional plant breeding methods can be very time consuming and are often not very accurate.1 These plants have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content. to make products that include wine. Combining genes from different organisms is known as recombinant DNA technology. plants. Genetic engineering. 3 1 2 http://www. reducing the time the plants are vulnerable to pests and disease and cutting down on costly chemicals. The enhancement of desired traits has traditionally been undertaken through breeding. For example. which is often where the world’s poorest people live. Growing pest-resistant genetically modified crops in tropical regions could provide food for millions of hungry people. cheese. plant geneticists can isolate a gene responsible for drought tolerance and insert that gene into a different plant. GM is a special set of technologies that alter the genetic makeup of organisms such as animals.

More research has shown that genes are destroyed by cooking. food with fewer chemicals and cheaper production and manufacturing costs. crops could grow in extreme climates – surviving frost and drought. DNA from food can’t be passed on in human reproduction. Would the new plants turn into super weeds and strangle all other plants in their way? Similarly. GM fish are enclosed in nets. In this case of fish farms. For example. If the nets developed holes the GM fish would breed with wild fish. Overall. GM food producers counter this by saying that conventional foods – like breakfast cereal. . A GM food plant that creates a poison could pollinate other crops and create food that is poisonous. there is the danger of accidents occurring in laboratories. Something that is unknown is whether the genetically modified organism that is released and planted will change and act strangely over generations. This would be particularly good for poorer nations. then how would doctors treat people for infections? Early fears that foreign DNA from GM foods could enter the human gut during digestion have largely been quelled. So far. or simply wipe out the wild fish if the GM fish are bred to be large. First. No matter how beneficial GM (genetically modified) technology may be in the long run. For example. as in the case of a Canadian soybean crop discussed in the next section. or as a general advantage to consumers. with examples that are both real and potential. for example – are not tested thoroughly on humans before being sold. Foods might be able to acquire higher nutritional value or have added minerals or vitamins to counteract a dietary deficiency in an area where people are malnourished. it is impossible to ignore the fact that there is a downside. and so on – thereby enabling previously inhospitable land to be cultivated. and that DNA in food is quickly broken down by the body. and that any food eaten in inappropriate amounts or carelessly handled can cause harm. genetic alteration of plants to resist viruses can stimulate the virus to strengthen. A widespread criticism of GM foods is that they aren’t tested on humans. Plants that are genetically modified to resist herbicides could ‘accidentally’ cross with other plants. could plants that are modified to kill off certain germs accidentally give rise to supergerms and cause widespread epidemics? Accidental crossing had been shown to have happened. There is evidence that toxins can pass from plants into the surrounding soil. if not improved. crops could reliably produce good-quality.As in the case of the cold-resistant soybean. no research has produced clear evidence that GM foods are any more dangerous than conventional foods. if an antibioticresistant gene escaped and eventually affected the human population. living in salty soil. which could have a bad effect on other plants.

Unbeknown to the beef producers. The clearest example is the growing death toll from ‘mad cow disease’. Scientists are constantly discovering new things about DNA. which can be traced back to the widespread use of a particular kind of food in raising beef in the UK. madness and death. so the potential for widespread health problems is great.Across all the points. 4 4 Australian Knowledge: Genetically Modified Foods – S and L Brodie 20/05/2011 . which causes gradual brain disintegration. so there are no guarantees that it can be controlled in a laboratory and behave as planned. the worst factor is the possibility of unforeseen effects. some cows were infected with a disease called BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy). Food is produced on a very large scale.

gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/gmfood.shtml Accessed: 20/05/2011  B. “Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?” (April 2000) [Online] At:http://www.com/discoveryguides/gmfood/overview.” (November 05.S.ornl.csa. “Genetically Modified Foods and Organisms. “Australian Knowledge: Genetically Modified Foods”. 2008) [Online] At:http://www.BIBLIOGRAPHY:  U. Department of Energy. Whitman.php Accessed: 20/05/2011  Brodie. S and L (2001). Hong Kong: Trocadero Publishing . Deborah.

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