Genetic modification of crops
Describe the technology.
Biotechnology is the type of technology that enlists the help of live organisms to create or alter an organism for the purposes of achieving practical results. The technology is what scientists use to develop high breed crops, highly effective drugs and other biological organisms suitable for the problem at hand. This technology has been used to create and develops breeds of crops that are resistant to pests and extreme weather conditions such as drought or extremely low temperatures. The nutritional value of crops is also modified to improve the quality of nutrients that the people consuming them can get (Fletcher, 2011).
This technology accomplishes many things in the agricultural sector. Farmers are able to get better yields for their crops. The technology entails engineering of crops in a way that the crops can survive in the current environmental situations. For instance; crops for African farmers need to be modified in a way that they can survives drought spells and pests. In the American agricultural space, the crops need to be modified to with stand cold and heat while at the same time giving the consumers appropriate nutritional values they need.
The scientific principles in this technology are all based on the DNA of organisms. These are the organisms that will eventually be modified to create a new breed of crop that is more nutritious and productive. There is also the principle of genetically modification that is aimed at ensuring the safety of the consumers. This technology is therefore tasked with ensuring that the consumption of this crops does not result in people growing resistance to antibiotic medication. It is also a major principle to ensure that the crops modified are more beneficial than harmful to the society.
How it works
Biotechnology works by the engineers studying the various cells of plants. After careful study, they take the weak cells and modify them to create stronger cells that can resist pests. This is an example of what all the cells that are considered problematic are treated to. This is a procedure that was made possible after the DNA structure was discovered to be in all living organisms. It contains the cells that map out what type of organism the particular substance is. The DNA is a hereditary print that ensures an organism procreates or multiplies while the original combination of cells are carried on. It is possible for the engineers to manipulate the DNA structures of plants to change the cells that are hereditary to ensure that they can be made into strong and resistant cells (World Health Organization, 2014). The resistance is mainly created against factors that are likely to diminish the quality of the end product.
The resistance in crops is created in various ways. The first way is to introduce bacteria to the DNA of a crop and develop them in an environment that will allow the integration of the bacteria to the DNA of the plant. The second way is to breed genetic cells of plants that would otherwise be difficult to breed to create a new plant resistant to extreme weather conditions (GREENFACTS, 2017). The scientist can also engineer the cells of crops and create the condition that the plants should be resistant to. At the end of this process, only the plant cells that can withstand the condition they were exposed to are selected for the next stage of growth. This is how the biotechnology experts develop plants that can survive adverse conditions. Looking at all these procedures, there is no point where the biotechnologists develop crops that can be harmful to the consumers.
Social and ethical implications
The social and ethical implications of biotechnology are endless. The social implications include dealing with religious groups who feel that the technology is defying God’s work. There are the conservative people in the society who feel that the technology is aimed at destroying people and they even conduct research programs to cement their beliefs. There is the world organizations who find the technology helpful in the fight against hunger especially in the poor countries. Ethical implications are those whereby the scientists can attempt to create a plant breed that defies all odds by using technology that has not been approved off or may be dangerous when consumed by people (Fletcher, 2011). It is important that any scientist handling items that people will eventually consume, takes into consideration the possible dangers that may result. This is why plants and crops for consumption are not treated with many antibiotics because people consuming them may eventually develop resistance to antibiotics.
The social implications championed by religious groups make it difficult for the scientist to talk to people and convince them of the safety of the genetically modified crops. This means that the farmers who trust their religious leaders more are prone to getting lower yields in protest against the genetically modified crops. This is a challenge that is mainly experienced in the third world countries where religion is the most important aspect of life (Ayobami, Valesca, Vidal, & Vasco, 2013). However, when there are hunger disasters, the same people are given relief food that is genetically modified yet they do not accept to grow the same on their own. It would be helpful if the religious groups took time to understand the importance of science in improving the livelihood of their people.
The conservatives are also a hindrance to the development of technology in making agriculture better. They also subscribe to the school of thought that the genetically modified crops are likely to be used to harm consumers. To the scientists, harming people by modifying crops wrongly is unethical. The science ethics have always put the safety of people first. This is why the conservatives are wrong in spreading the narrative that the crops are not safe for consumption.
The world organizations like the World Health Organization have always been supportive of science to solve world problems (World Health Organization, 2014). It is for this reason that they support genetic engineering of crops. This is a way for this organizations to reduce the number of times countries request for relief food for their citizens. These organizations are always focused on ensuring that people can easily and readily access good crop inputs to ensure that they can get good yield at the end of the season. It is also a way for the scientists to help in reducing poverty levels in the society and at the end of the day make people live better lives.
Benefits and risks
The risks tied to genetically modifying crops are many. There is the risk that was reported by the British Medical Association that explains the possible resistance to antibiotics to the people (Key, K-C Ma, & Drake, 2008) (Philips, 2008). This would mean the crops would generally have long term negative effects to the consumer. There may also be unregulated changes to the value of nutrition in the plants that have been genetically modifies (Ayobami, Valesca, Vidal, & Vasco, 2013). The probability of one plant producing stronger nutritional value may be opposite in another crop which may produce lower nutritional value. There is a possibility of creating super weeds when weeds get to breed with the highly resistant crops. This will make it more challenging to deal with pest crops in the fields instead of helping the farmer get better yields from their crops. There is also a risk of monopolization of some crop breeds making the seed very expensive. This is something that companies have the freedom of patenting. Following the patenting of a seed, the company becomes the only authorized supplier which means that they set their prices unregulated. Farmers and consumers have consistently raised concerns over the failure by the companies supplying the genetically modified crops and foods. They argue that when a negative reaction to the genetically modified products is realized, it if difficult to trace it back because there are no labels setting them apart.
It is my personal point of view that the genetically modified crops be distributed but not in secret. This means that the companies taking part in this processes label their products. This is something that will enable the consumer to make an informed choice as opposed to picking an item and later find that it was not pure breed as they had expected. The technology has all the good intentions of making life better for people by ensuring that crops are successful and the best possible quality. At the same time, there is lack of transparency in the processes used to create the high breed crops and the effects they are likely to elicit in the people who consume the products. It is important for scientists to come out clearly and explain what they do and refrain from releasing potentially harmful products to the society.
Ayobami, A. S., Valesca, A., Vidal, B. F., & Vasco, A. (2013). Biotechnology and Agriculture. Journal of Health Education Research and Development.
Fletcher, J. (2011). Genetically Modiefied Crops. Retrieved from Agricultural Biosecurity: https://fas.biosecurity/education/dualuse-agriculture/2-agricultural technology/genetically-enginered-crops.html
GREENFACTS. (2017). Genetically Modified Crops. Retrieved from Green Facts: https://googleweblight.com/i?u=https://www.greenfacts.org.en/gmo/2-genetically-modified-crops-/2-genetic-engineering.htm%236&hl=en-KE&TG=326&TK=7zmuQwipjvpFFZEO£a.6
Key, S., K-C Ma, J., & Drake, P. M. (2008). Genetically Modified Plnats and Human Health. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 290-298.
Philips, T. (2008). Genetically Modified Organisms: Transgenic Crops and Recombinant DNA tECHNOLOGY. Retrieved from A Learning Space for Science: www.natupage/genetically-modified-organisms-gmos-trangenic-crops-and-732re.com/scitable/topic
World Health Organization. (2014, May). Frequently Asked Questions on Genetically Modified Foods. Retrieved from World Health Organization: googleweblight.com/i?u=http://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/food-technology/faq-genetically-modified-food/en/&grqid-EnWOg2iu&hl=en-KE
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