Funston Science

Topic 2: GMOs

Filed under: GMOs — tfunston at 4:13 pm on Wednesday, March 9, 2011

GMOs

 For thousands of years farmers have used a process of selection and cross breeding to continually improve the quality of crops. Even in nature, plants and animals selectively breed, thus ensuring the optimum gene pool for future generations. Traditional breeding methods are slow, requiring intensive labor: while trying to get a desirable trait in a bred species, undesirable traits will appear and breeders must continue the process over and over again until all the undesirables are bred out.

In contrast, GMOs receive one or a few targeted genes in a single generation in order to acquire a population with desired traits such as:

  • Rice with built-in Vitamin A that can help prevent blindness in 100 million children suffering from Vitamin A deficiency;
  • A tomato that softens more slowly, allowing it to develop longer on the vine and keep longer on the shelf;
  • Potatoes that absorb less fat when fried, changing the ever-popular french fries from junk food into a more nutritional food;
  • Strawberry crops that can survive frost;
  • An apple with a vaccine against a virus that causes childhood pneumonia.

 Statement: GMOs are beneficial and will a role in malnutrition prevention, improving crop yield, and decreasing pesticide use.


17 Comments »

  1.    Dana Murray — April 9, 2014 @ 12:25 pm   

    Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) are a broad group of plants, animals, and bacteria that are engineered for a wide variety of applications ranging from agricultural production to scientific research. It is stated that GMO’s have a potential negative effect on the environment and Human health. It is also said that GMO’s can potentially increase food allergies in children by 7% and adults by 4% in the U.S. Knowing the side effects of some serious allergies today, this increase in exposure definitely will not benefit the general population. It is also stated that Genetically Modified Organisms have a decrease in nutritional value: GMO’s produce a higher level of Phytate in grains that makes them unavailable to humans which decreases the mineral nutritional value of the plant. Another study mentions that a Genetically Modified soybean produces lower levels of phytoestrogen compounds: phytoestrogen protects the human body against heart disease and cancer. It is believed by many in the world today that Genetically Modified Organisms are unhealthy for humans in general.

  2.    Owen Stickley — April 9, 2014 @ 12:42 pm   

    GMOs are beneficial when compared to natural plants and animals because they are more productive and offer many more positive opportunities for health, materials and other economic and environmental advances.
    Goats have been genetically modified with spider DNA that allows them to produce the spider’s silk protein in their milk. Geneticists took the spider’s dragline gene and put it into the goat’s DNA. Spider silk is incredibly durable and strong, making it a very valuable material. The silk can be used to create a fiber called Biosteel, which is stronger than Kevlar. Kevlar is commonly used in bullet proof vests and armor for self-defense. This spider silk was usually hard to come by and make into useable products. But now that it’s available in these goats it will produce much more usefulness in industry.
    Corn has also been genetically modified to make it more efficient and cheaper to produce in large quantities. BT corn requires less work to produce and it produces a higher yield, which can help in solving hunger problems. It also has added nutrients and vitamins that make it healthier. BT corn has the “potential to produce medicines inexpensively” (maizecdna.org). They also have pesticides bioengineered into the corn which prevent insects from destroying crops.

    Pros of Bt corn. (2003). Gercorn.Tripod: http://gecorn.tripod.com/id3.html
    12 bizarre examples of genetic engineering.(2011) Mother Nature Network: http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/research-innovations/photos/12-bizarre-examples-of-genetic-engineering/web-spinning-goats

  3.    Taigan Dance — April 14, 2014 @ 11:15 am   

    Re: Owen, April 9
    GMOs are beneficial when compared to natural plants and animals because they are more productive and offer many more positive opportunities for health, materials and other economic and environmental advances

    Genetically Modified Organisms have made their way in to almost all processed foods in our stores today, not helping us to develop healthy attitudes. These processed foods were already considered unhealthy for us, but now with the addition of GMOs to these products, they lead to vitamin deficiency. More importantly we have become accustomed to the reality that GMOs are everywhere and we don’t know any other way.
    GMOs have found their way into our lives, as the David Suzuki Foundation says, “they were introduced as the answer to world hunger”, but instead they are “productive” in contributing to the withstanding obesity crisis, making already unhealthy foods, more unhealthy and worse for us, just to yield more in the farmer’s crops. Unfortunately for Canadians, we are unable to properly protect ourselves from these foods, because we have no policy that requires GMOs to be labeled as such. As the “Eyes of Nye” video expressed, it is important to know what we are eating, and what you are putting into your bodies.

    Sources:

    “Understanding GMO.” David Suzuki Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2014. .

    The Eyes of Nye, Walt Disney, Genetically Modified Organisms Video

  4.    Mackenzie Bailey — April 14, 2014 @ 9:26 pm   

    Re: Taigan Dance – April 14, 2014

    In this entry it was stated that genetically modified food contributes to vitamin deficiency; however this is completely inaccurate. In third world countries malnutrition is a constant issue causing blindness from lack of vitamin A. To prevent blindness genetically modified golden rice is produced in these countries to provide the individuals with the essential vitamins they need to retain proper health (Bill Nye video).

    Not only are genetically modified foods essential in third world countries for supplying vitamin needs they are also able to provide vaccines as well. The vaccines are administered through the use of tomatoes and potatoes, making it “…much easier to ship, store, and administer than traditional injectable vaccines” (Whitman, 2000). This technology is extremely beneficial for the future of third world countries.

    The Eyes of Nye, Walt Disney, Genetically Modified Organisms Video

    Whitman, D. B. (2000, January 1). Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?. ProQuest. Retrieved April 14, 2014, from http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/gmfood/overview.php

  5.    Becca Hamilton — April 15, 2014 @ 2:04 pm   

    Re: Owen Stickley, April 9, 2014

    For many, the idea of GMO’s seems healthy. However, according to Iowa State University, “some GMO foods have had antibiotic features added to them so they are resistant to certain diseases and viruses. When humans eat them, these antibiotics features persist in our bodies and make actual antibiotic medications less effective.” This means that by eating food that have antibiotic additives we could become immune to that specific antibiotic simply by eating that particular food. If we were ever to get sick then that antibiotic would be ineffective against certain diseases. By eating foods that have not been contaminated with anything, we are keeping ourselves free of any antibiotic resistance risk in the future.

    Another concern that Brown University discovered is that, “modified genes may escape into the wild.” The university has identified the possibility that a herbicide resistant gene can naturally cross into wild seeds. The result is that a super seed “that is resistant to herbicides can be created.” This means that the plants can spread rapidly because they will become harder to kill. These super seeds could then kill other crops. At this point in research there’s not much anyone could do to stop such an infestation.

    Kantor, K. (2013, April 16). Gmo’s – pros and cons. Retrieved from http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-957532

  6.    Ashley Hodgson — April 15, 2014 @ 6:22 pm   

    Re: Owen Stickley, April 9, 2014

    There are many potential health effects associated with consuming GMOs, some of which include the development of new allergens, increased toxicity, decreased nutrition, autism as well as antibiotic resistance. As for the environment, environmental scientists do not know the long-term impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity dispersing GMOs could have as well as the threats they might pose to our water quality.
    According to GMO news, “Various feedings studies in animals have resulted in tumors, damaged immune systems, smaller brains, livers, birth defects, reproductive problems and infertility.” Approximately 90% of all products sold at grocery stores contain GMO ingredients even though the consumption of those products are linked with, as expressed before, allergies, increased toxicity, decreased nutrition, autism and antibiotic resistance. Furthermore, GMOs have also been posing ecological risks, such as superweeds, pest resistance, and effects on non-target organisms.

    Sources:

    Edge, T., Gagné, F., & Lawrence, J. (n.d.). Water Science. Government of Canada, Environment Canada. Retrieved April 15, 2014.

    GMO: Harmful Effects. (n.d.). GMO: Harmful Effects. Retrieved April 15, 2014.

    Parent, R. (n.d.). About GMOs. Kids Right to Know. Retrieved April 15, 2014.

  7.    Sam.G — April 16, 2014 @ 3:41 pm   

    RE:Taigan Dance — April 14, 2014
    “‘They were introduced as the answer to world hunger”, but instead they are “productive” in contributing to the withstanding obesity crisis?’” Does obesity really have anything to do with GMO’s inside food? Obesity would not be the cause in “their vitamin deficiency”. The thing about GMO foods and animals is that they can be modified to the liking of whoever it is trying to benefit. Although many adjustments are made around their growth yield for farmers, it is not all for money’s sake. Many GMO’s are created with nutritional values in thought. Much of the juice people drink contains a vast amounts of vitamin C, iron, and fibre depending on the juice; typically not found in such concentrations naturally.
    “Golden Rice” is another great example of food that had been genetically modified to serve the people positively with nutritional value being eminently visible. Rice, maize, and wheat are the world’s most important crops. Rice makes up the main food source for almost half of the world’s population and with this importance of demand, especially in poor countries, it is easy to see why engineers were on the forefront of creating a meal sufficient enough to provide underprivileged being with the ability to eat rice that has an above average nutritional content. This same food is available to consumers everywhere, whether or not they choose to purchase it or not is up to them. The growing obesity epidemic is to be blamed on what people do to their food after it has been grown, not the people growing it with the help of natural genes.

    Sources:
    http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/genetically-modified-organisms-gmos-transgenic-crops-and-732
    http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/database/ingredients/204.vitamins.html

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