We live in a world that is constantly changing and
advancing thanks to technological advancements, especially in the field of
molecular genetics. We are also making advancements in the field of agriculture
thanks to molecular genetics. As we all know, food is an essential entity in
our lives and is abundant as well as relatively easy to obtain here in the
United States. However, as good as it may sound, this is not necessarily true
for developing countries. Many people in developing
countries receive very little food, if any, due to its scarcity. It is estimated
that approximately 800 million people go to bed hungry every night due to food
shortage. This problem can be alleviated by turning to the production of
genetically modified organisms ( GMOs). This paper will discuss how to make
GMOs , the real situation of using GMOs in Vietnam and some argument about the
safety of GMOs.
2. Discussion of findings
2.1. What is GMO ?
As reported by
Jennifer Chait ( 2017) , Genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism or
microorganism whose genetic makeup has been altered or modified in the
laboratory by using genetic engineering techniques which include recombinant
DNA technology and reproductive cloning in order to incorporate genes from
another organism like plants, virus, bacterium, etc. By adding these new genes,
genetic engineers hope that these plant will express the traits which are
associated with the genes they choose. This traits may be increasing product
productivity, limiting diseases which effect to plants, animals or creating new
products having great nutrion.
2.2. How to make GMO ?
Identify the trait of interest.
often find and select many traits from plants or animals, sometimes from virus
and bacterium so that they can identify a splendid trait. The combination of
critical thinking and luck is the key to create a successful discovery of a new
genetic trait of interest. For instance, an organism which is able to survive
in harsh environment may be a subject for researchers to research for a trait
that would allow a crop to survive in this environment. Or if researchers want
to create a plant that includes more nutritionally and vitamins, they would list different
plants producing a nutrient of interest. Taking Golden rice creating in 2000 as
a current example of GMO that had combination of luck and critical thinking.
This new kind of rice has a great amount of pro-vitamin A, which human body can
turn into the vitamin A. Researchers identified special gene producing
pro-vitamin A then they listed several plants that they had doubts about
including this gene. Luckily, they found a plant in nature with a high level of
2.2.2. Isolate the genetic trait of interest.
Researchers usually use comparative analysis to decode what part
of an organism’s genetic makeup contains the trait of interest. The genomes of
plants with the trait they choose are compared to genomes in the same species
without the trait, with the goal of identifying genes present only in the
former. If there is no database of genetic information for comparison,
scientists will purposefully delete, or knocking out parts of the genome of
interest until the desired trait is lost. By this way, scientists can identify
the genes that lead to the trait. In order to carry out this process, a method
called seed chipping is developed and patented by Monsanto, a chemical
corporation. First, they shave off parts of seeds for high-throughput genetic
sequencing while leaving the rest of the seeds viable for planting. This
creates a genetic database for plants before they are grown, where a barcode
system is used to match plants to their genotypes. Researchers may then use
this database to identify new traits of interest as well as to assess the
desirable traits in a crop by selecting for the best genotypes based on plant
2.2.3. Insert the desired genetic trait into a new genome
Altering the genome of plant seeds is difficult because of their
rigid structure. Many biotech companies use a special device called gene gun
that shoots metal particles coated with DNA into plant tissue. Monsanto no
longer uses gene guns, but instead takes advantage of special bacteria that naturally invade seeds and alter
plants by inserting pieces of their own DNA into a plant’s genome. In
biotechnology research, it is common to genetically engineer bacteria to
produce a desired protein. This is done by using enzymes to cut and paste a DNA
strand of interest into a plasmid, which is a small, circular molecule of DNA.
Then Bacteria are shocked using heat or electricity so that the cells accept
the engineered plasmid. By modifying this
special bacteria, which is
easier to modify than plant seeds themselves, researchers may use the
bacteria’s naturally invasive behavior as a Trojan horse for inserting
desirable traits into a crop’s genome.
After a genetic trait has been successfully inserted into an
organism’s genome, the modified organism must be able to grow and replicate
with its newly engineered genome. First, the genotype of the organisms must be
checked so that researchers are only propagating organisms in which the genome
was modified correctly. Biotech companies invest large sums into keeping these
plants alive and reproducing once they have been successfully created. The
companies use special climate-controlled growth chambers, and biologists often
check on the plants by hand to make sure that they are growing as expected. During
this process biotech companies will use automated machines in order to track
plants and calculate optimal seeding and growth conditions to create the best
possible yields. GMO seeds often come with instructions on spacing and
nutrition that result from these studies.
2.3. Is GMO really safe ?
2.3.1. About health.
Due to producing great amounts of foods
which have more nutrients, genetically modified organisms have the enormous potential
to solve the hunger and starvation of millions of people in developing
countries. Genetically modified organisms also contain
large amounts of nutrients like protein and vitamins, especially several
qualities using to manufacture precious medicine to cure people from dangerous
diseases. However, there are some doubts about the safety of genetically
modified organisms. The concerns are that new genes that are added to plants or
animals may have allergenic substances. Another is that genetic engineering often use antibiotic – resistance genes as ”
selectable markers” and this creates to some serious public health problems
because when people eat products that contain antibiotic-resistant also could
leads to protest antibiotics. It is extremely dangerous for people when people
need antibiotics to prescribe diseases. The genetically modified organism may contain certain toxic substances, like
heavy metals. According to an experience which did by a French Scientist named
Gilles Eric Seralini in 2012, when mice
ate corn NK603, a kind of corn which was modified genes, they suffered from severe liver and kidney damage. Cancer
cells also existed in their body and after over 2 months, they died. What
happened on these mice might happen on human.