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Write a research and position paper discussing the significance of Genetically Modified Organisms

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Research and Position Paper on Genetically Modified Organisms
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Introduction
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are those organisms whose genetic material and content have been altered through the techniques of genetic engineering. These organisms are also called transgenic organism since the original gene of these organisms are modified. These organisms are used in food production and form the basis of various scientific researches. GMOs are categorized into a broad species of cellular organisms which includes microbes, plants, and animals which are meant for specific uses. Genetically Modified Crops are resistant to herbicides and pesticides, thus leading to an increase in agricultural yield. Genetically modified viruses are used as vectors for inserting a gene of therapeutic interest within the body of a human being. Examples of such viruses include adenovirus, through which apoptotic genes are inserted for the treatment of cancer (Nayar, 2009).
Genetically Modified Animals or Transgenic animals are used in clinical and biomedical research. Global warming is another issue which can be addressed by GMOs. The green house gases like carbon dioxide traps the UV rays from reflecting back into the atmosphere and causes warming of the earth’s surface. GM plants are produced to trap increased amounts of carbon dioxide from the air.

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This will result in increased food production and also prevention of global warming (Beckmann &Soregaroli, 2011).
Production of GMOs
The productions of GMOs are based on recombinant DNA technology and also introduction of insertion and deletion mutations within the inherent genome of the organism. In the former approach the foreign gene of interest (for example, a gene for herbicide resistance) is inserted into the stem cells of plants which produce herbicide resistance crops. The technique involves use of enzymes called restriction endonucleases that cuts the target genome (DNA segment) at specific sequences (comprising of a unique length of base pairs). Upon removal of base pairs a foreign DNA segment (carrying the gene for herbicide resistance) is introduced into the gap of the genome (Nayar, 2009).
The recombinant genome is next inserted into the organism (in this case crops), to increase its yield potential. In the later approach genes are either knocked out or modified within the target genome through deletion of a specific base pair or insertion of a specific base pair that leads to production of an altered protein or character. Other methods of production include use of Gene gun technique. In this technique specific DNA segment (carrying the gene of interest) is tagged with gold or tungsten particles and are injected into the organisms under high pressure (Nayar, 2009).
Examples of GM Plants and Animals Used for food
A variety of rice called Golden Rice developed by the International Rice Research Institute provides increased amounts of vitamin A. Hence, Golden Rice can be used as a source of vitamin A supplementation, in individuals having a deficiency of Vitamin A like Xeropthalmia. Some species of soybeans like Camelina sativa have been modified to accumulate higher level of oils similar in nature to fish oils. Thus, they provide an alternate to fish oils where consumption of fishes is restricted. One variant of an apple called Arctic Apple has been approved by USDA. Gene silencing is used to prevent the production of polyphenol oxidase. Hence, the browning away of the fruit is prevented after it is sliced open, which increases its preservation (Wesselar & Kalaitzandonakes, 2011).
Genetically modified cows are being used to produce increased quantity of milk. Apart from increased quantity of milk, these cows can produce milk which matches the content of human milk. Further, such milk is devoid of allergic properties too. Salmon is another organism which is genetically modified to provide increased protein content. Goats have been genetically modified to provide increased milk content (Nayar, 2009).
Safety Concerns and Determination of safety of GM Foods
GM foods have been a concern on issues of safety. The safety of GM foods is determined by level of safety concern (LSC) guidelines. These are the properties which the GM organisms must exhibit to ensure safety compliance. Such properties are no special confinement is needed for such organisms while handling them. Further such organisms should not pose risk to human health and should not disturb the ecological balance (Wesseler et al, 2011).
How Countries Addressed Their Concerns for GMOs
Various countries around the world have made awareness programs regarding the apprehensions on safety of GM organisms and foods. They have endorsed that no special labelling is required to distinguish genetically modified foods from the normal foods available for consumption. Further various countries have adopted the production of genetically modified crops and the benefits of such crops have been made visible to the farmers. Countries like United States have increased their usage of cultivation land for the production of genetically modified crops. Such measures provide adequate confidence both to the farmers and common people with regard to safety concern on GM foods (Wesseler et al., 2011).
Reasons why GM foods are considered safe for Human Consumption
Almost in every GM food produced there has been no need for special confinement zones and the organisms have not been proven to cause additional risk on human health (Panesar, 2009).
No reports till date has been produced that GM foods cause adverse effects on human health.
Recommendations by various scientific bodies for the potential of GMOs in addressing the issues of malnourishment (Wesseler et al., 2011).
Reasons why GM foods are considered unsafe for Human Consumption
Long term health impact of such foods have still not been studied or proved.
Chances of contamination of non-genetically modified crops, which is another area that has not been evaluated.
Mandatory labelling of GM foods in some countries may create apprehensions on safety (Wesseler et al., 2011).
Conclusion
Genetically Modified Organisms are being used all across the world for their potential to produce disease resistant plants and increased quality of food production. Although there have been apprehensions of safety with such organisms, it has still not been proved. GM foods have already exhibited increased possibility of addressing issues of vitamin deficiency and malnutrition. The yield with GM crops has been proved and is increasingly adopted by farmers in cultivation.
References
Beckmann, V., C. Soregaroli, J.  (2011): “Coexistence of genetically modified (GM)
and non-modified (non GM) crops: Are the two main property rights regimes
equivalent with respect to the coexistence value?” In Genetically modified food
and global welfare edited by Colin Carter, GianCarlo Moschini and Ian Sheldon,
pp 201–224. Volume 10 in Frontiers of Economics and Globalization Series.
Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing
 Nayar, A. (2011). “Grants aim to fight malnutrition”.  Nature. doi:10.1038
Panesar, Pamit et al. (2010) Enzymes in Food Processing: Fundamentals and
Potential Applications, Chapter 10, I K International Publishing House,
Wesseler, J. and N. Kalaitzandonakes (2011): “Present and Future EU GMO policy”.
In Arie Oskam, Gerrit Meesters and Huib Silvis (eds.), EU Policy for Agriculture,
Food and Rural Areas. Second Edition, pp. 23–323 – 23-332. Wageningen:
Wageningen Academic Publishers

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