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Genetically Modified Organisms are those organisms whose genes or other genetic materials have been altered by the use of many available genetic engineering techniques. The technology used for modification is 'Recombinant DNA technology'. In this technology, DNA molecules from varied sources are combined in to a single molecule to create or generate an entirely new set of genes. Further, this gene is transferred to an actual living organism that leads to new novel genes. The modification includes insertion and / or deletion of genes. The genes when inserted generally come from different species, geographic conditions, etc. which forms a horizontal gene transfer.
GMO had a huge impact on society after its discovery. Now, they are not only used in biological and medical researches but also in agriculture. The pharmaceutical drugs, medicines and golden rice are the typical example of genetically modified organism. (Frederick, 1995)
Monsanto's triple stack corn combines Round Ready 2 as a weed control technology. Yield Gard Rootworm and Yield Gard Corn insect control is the United States market leader in corn industry. From 17 million acres in 2007 it stacked to about 45 million to 50 million acres by 2010. This shows the amount of trust that the farmer had in these types of genetically modified organism or crops. These crops are weed resistant and produce a huge amount of revenue with very less efforts. (G M Food debate)
Social Issues and Potential risk
There are many social issues involved in using of genetically modified organism. Some of them are discussed in detail below:
The genetically modified organism should not put any negative impact on human behavior and health. This includes allergies, resistant markers, antibiotics and other unknown effects.
Human is a social animal, if any negative impact is found on humans than it may lead to total destruction of the planet.
Any un- informed or un- restricted transfer of genes from any living organism to human should not be allowed.
Environment should remain clean and pollution free. Any harmful effects that lead to pollution, uncontrollable situation may lead us to lose our wide variety of flora and fauna.
Environment is a very essential part to human beings and other living organism.
UN- controlled cross - pollination, un- intended transfer of genes and other effects on living and non - living organisms like soil, microbes etc. is not tolerable. (Nelson, 2001)
Other Living Organism:
Other than human beings there are many living organism, whose gene transfusion may also lead to massive destruction on the planet.
Gene transfer should be the last priority for any genetic modification. There should be another way by which genetic modification steps could be carried out.
Access and Intellectual Property
The power of genetic modification should not be patented i.e. it should not remain in the hands of single or a group of persons, organizations or nations.
The knowledge should be shared amongst all the countries with no boundaries.
Limitation should be such that the practical implementation could only be carried by informing prior to their respective heads or by some written permission.
Developing countries heavily depend on industrialization. To prevent the industries from polluting the environment genetic modification algorithms should be used.
Bio piracy and unwanted foreign exploitation of natural resources for genetic used should also be taken as a separate issue. As this issue involves many multinational and organizations that may try to hamper the actual image.
There should be some ethics to be followed while going for genetically modified organism.
It may be taken as an insult to the entire natural organism and their intrinsic values.
Genetic modification tries to tamper or change the original existing gene by mixing it with genes of another species.
This could lead to stress amongst animals and other living organisms.
Restrictions should be imposed for consuming animal genes in plants and vice versa.
Proper labeling technique should be followed to differentiate between genetically modified and non - genetically modified.
Crops and other eatables should not be mixed with the genes of animals.
In countries like United States of America it could be non - mandatory.
These new advances in technology may mark a skew in developed and rich countries.
All power should be equally distributed amongst all the nations, regardless of the country's development. (regulation of G M foods)
Uses of technology
Medical: Recently the world has witnessed a huge demand for medicines and still it is on the rise. Main reason for this is the increase in population. The current medicine backup that the world has is not even capable of handling half of the world's population. Now, the demand for medicine is much exceeded to what the current production methods could supply. The population is increasing at a faster pace with the increase in the aged or elderly portion of the population thus requiring much more intensive care as medical perspective.
New diseases are emerging day by day and then mutating at a pace greater than the drugs or antidote could be delivered, the bacteria and viruses whose cure were available are now resistant to all those old and aged medicines.
GM or genetically modified plants and animals could be used by scientist and researchers to produce new effective medicines faster. Moreover, there is a new threat of biological warfare or hazard that may take entire world into its domain. So, to underscore all these factors there is an urgent need for immediate production of medicines
One more arguments is the cost of G M medicines. The prices of a normal medicine are huge now a day's and will continue to rise for next years to come. The genetically modified medicines could produce a much more cost - effective solution to this problem. The developing countries are cheaper so G M plants could be set up there to produce medicines economically and thus helping both the developing country and society as a whole.
Modification in taste and quality that give a chance to try new things for entertainment.
Less time for maturation: This would allow farmers to grow multiple crops faster.
Resistant to weeds, diseases, etc.: Improves gain as nearly none of the crops would get damaged due to unhealthy wear and tear.
High nutrient contents
New technology for growing new products
Animals and organisms
Resistant to diseases
High productivity and efficiency
High yield of milk, meat and eggs.
Improvement in animal health, providing ways to live longer.
Conservation of water, energy and soil
Efficient processing of waste.
Improvement in bio and forestry products
Security for growing population
Generate high resistibility for diseases.
New technology (G M food and organism)
In different countries like North America, Europe and Canada there is a regulatory system to control the use of genetically modified research. Some of their key points are as follows:
No research could be carried out without prior information and / or approval with the designated authority
The practical instruments used for genetic modifications are secured with the technique to use it.
For crops in Canada, G M crops are grown separately in different location than non - G M so as to prevent cross pollination of G M crops with non - G M.
Labeling is done for every G M and non - G M crops. This helps the consumer while purchasing a product. Crops here are meant by crops and organisms. (say no to GMOs)
World wide acceptance of technology
If genetic modification is to be adopted worldwide, there should be some prior steps taken to prevent misuse of such a divine technology. The steps taken in countries like North America, Europe and Canada are reliable enough to prevent any harmful usage, but these norms are not global. They operate in their own vicinity and region. United Nation for Organization should setup some guidelines for producing, researching and purchasing of G M products. These guidelines should be followed by all the countries across the world for living happily.
Genetically modified organisms may pose threat to human beings, living organisms and environment. The research and production should be carried out securely without any other unwanted human intervention. There should be some clause needed to be set up by UNO to promote the secured research and time to time modifications should be made in that so that the clause could not become obsolete.
Decision on where subject matter fits into Theories studied:
From all the above discussed aspects we could easily say that the science and technology is developed purely on the basis of the needs of society. Technology is not something that drives others on its way; it is determined by the hard work and research that is carried out by keeping public interest or need in mind. It is a neutral entity as a whole and we as a user has to decide the consequence of the technology. Example for technology's dual use is: Nuclear Research. It is not only used in generating a huge economical energy but also in various space technologies. On the other hand nuclear power has destroyed many cities like Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Science and technology are not something that could be kept in McLuhan's 4 laws of Media. It is independent of all these. Technology is something what society needs and is capable of generating it.