Sometimes, when reading a textbook or listening to some news you may have come across the term GMO, so what does that stand for? In genetic engineering, a genetically modified organisms (GMO) is an animal, plant, or microbe whose DNA has been modified. In a lab, the property of the organism can be changed and a new property can also be introduced into the organism, or existing property can be modified or enhanced. Most of the time, it is meant as adding a DNA gene from one species to another.
Genetically Modified BT Cotton
The most prominent example would be BT cotton, a biological bacteria which is used as a pesticide and found in cotton.
Earlier, bollworms found in the crops would eat the cotton and destroy its flourish because of which many farmers and crop owners would get stressed.
To solve such a problem when GMO was first introduced in 1996, the Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) which is a gram-positive bacteria and also a natural pesticide was researched and its properties were also studied. It was known that the 200 stains in it produced toxins. As a result, the stains of the cotton plant were altered and later introduced, so that when the crops were grown, the bollworms could not eat them since the crops became poisonous. The major win was that only the organism which were meant to prevent from had this effect, while others didn’t have any effect of this modification.
Proven Values of Generically Modified Organisms
There are also some basic principles of GMOs. The prior principle would be to identify the quality and to alter the DNA for a particular trait. It can be for enhancement or modification. For instance, we wanted an instant resistance for cotton so we invented BT cotton with the help of Generically Modified Organisms and so the bollworms had to then stay away from the crops.
In addition, some crops have been altered, and some of them do not even die when completely dried up and with less water irrigation. We can also see a significant increase in global food production with the help of it which is proven to be a good scientific contribution to the population. With the help of such activity, we can thus count it a cheap substitution for other chemical pesticides.
Why would we conduct GMO?
Why would anybody want to alter the gene of an organism or say conduct a GMO? Well, a lot of times it’s used for research.
If you’re trying to figure how Alzheimer’s works, one of the best ways to do so is to take a gene that you believe causes Alzheimer’s in humans and put it into some laboratory animal that you can do experiments on and that you couldn’t possibly do on humans. Such transfer of trait, disease, or a particular property is done by Generically Modified Organisms. You can create new products with this experiment, as mentioned above how the creation of BT cotton had turned up a lifesaver.
Another, most effective and important phenomenon by Generically Modified Organisms is the creation of a bacteria that produced human insulin and that transformed into something monumental. It led to the development of ways to treat diseases that never existed before. For example, Diabetics can get insulin, we are talking about human insulin but is made by a certain bacteria. There’re many other examples of these kinds of GMOs.
Genetically Modified Crops
In agriculture, there are a lot of different versions of soybean and corn that have been genetically modified. One of the most common ones is a modification that allows the corn to make its pesticide just like the BT cotton, targeting insects and worms. If an insect munches on the corn, it dies! The producers of it just exclaim how awesome this is for the environment and remarkably great for crop bearing, also people don’t have to spray tons of pesticide all over the crops.
Some people against it shall say, well what happens when this gene gets from the corn which we don’t want pest insects to eat into wild and wild plants that we do want those insects to eat. So, what if it starts killing creatures that we consider are important to the ecology and that’s a question that is still being debated.
Experimenting the GMO
Some people have started using this idea to investigate ways to create vaccines in potatoes and that is also incredible because if you think about it, vaccines are a great way to stop diseases like smallpox or relevant other diseases, but again they require large investments in manufacturing plants and chemical industries that a lot of countries can’t possibly afford.
Plus, they also require refrigeration and trained healthy people to do the injections. Well but what if you put the vaccine into a potato, then you hand the potato to somebody in a developing country and they know how to make a potato. You put those into the ground, and the people there grow it, followed by cutting one of them and eating it. Congrats, you’re vaccinated. Hence, there is no refrigeration or people required, it becomes a great concept whether or not it becomes a reality in the future.
The process of GMO
So, how is the amazing ability to modify the genes of living organisms done? Well, the basic process is fairly simple to describe. First, the DNA is cut and isolated and then separated from the rest of the DNA from the donor organism. After that, it is glued or ligated into a special kind of DNA called vector DNA that can get the desired DNA into a new host cell. It is then inserted into the host cell followed by the further growth of the host cell that hopefully has the new DNA in it. Finally, it is then checked whether or not it is showing the new trait.
Although there are many debates about this kind of modification mainly, the BT Brinjal was in a lot of controversy in India. It was questioned whether or not to introduce this system to grow anti-worm veggies and fruits or whether it would hinder the natural organic value of such foods. People would even raise judgments like it is a process that is not reliable and is violating nature’s work. Despite such consequences, this activity has not shown any negative effect on the host organisms.