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Impacts of Genetic Engineering of Agricultural Crops

The contemporary world is increasing from time to time. This increase considers the growth of the population and, in return, the same growth of needs that should be satisfied. The life of a human being is hard to imagine without the extent of food, meals, and crops, as the main sources of nutrition and as a guarantee for further living. In present days the importance of genetic engineering grew due to the innovations in biotechnologies and Sciences. Scientific and technological progress provoked the decisions of many problems with the purpose to make the lives of people better and more convenient. Along with this, hazardous effects appeared as well. This menace is contemplated with nature and a man in their reciprocal connection as of the inevitable influence of nature on a man and a natural man. Nature is concerned as a background for crops, and a man – as a consumer of these crops. This paper urges to work out a bilateral nature of genetic engineering in agriculture with points on its advantages and limitations.

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Loomis & Connor (1992) provide a brief statistical of the population growth in the world from times of colonial expansion provided by the European countries in 1650 until the year 1990. Thus the population within these frames grew from 500 million to 5,200 billion. Today’s statistical data prove that the population on earth increased to the index mark of more than 6 billion people. Such a demographic explosion terrifies scholars due to the character of geometric progression. Thus, the need for food supply is increased rapidly, and poor countries, namely those peoples from Central Africa are at risk of starvation and extinction on the whole. Thus, the need for additional crops supply and food made of it should be taken into account by the world community. Due to the investigations in the sphere of high technologies and biotechnological approach, scientists provide today many programs for resolving this vital, in the proper sense of the word, issue.

The role of nanotechnologies becomes higher and higher for using this approach in the food industry. As Jim Dingman (2008) points out, the use of nanotechnologies in food in the year 2015 in the US will be impacted by “$1 trillion annually”. This statement should bear in mind that genetically modified or influenced meals are present in stores and supermarkets, and human beings should be aware that this issue is incorporated into the sphere of the food industry. Ernie Hood (2004) gives a distinctively correct definition of nanotechnology, as the “creation, manipulation, and application of materials at the nanoscale” (Hood, 2004, pp. 740). Looking at the problem from the other side, one can get to the point of paradox that appeared in the contemporary world. It is considered with the fact, that people are trying now to solve the huge significant problems connected with food supply using tiny devices or technologies. Moreover, this scenario for the implementation of the genetic approach in the food industry presupposes the main advantages for human beings.

It is understood that along with the fast tempos of peoples’ growth on earth the necessity for food reserves becomes vital. That is why nanotechnologies provide a very strong flow of innovations toward the protection of crops from, for example, insects and other negative impacts. Thus the hybrids promote protection for crops being on the edge of extinction so that to stimulate their growth and endurance against herbicides and pesticides as well (Holthaus, 2006). In this case, Ariel D. Arencibia describes all possible and current advantages and disadvantages of genetic engineering for crops and nature, in particular. Thus, the author is intended to state that “the accurate quantification of the genetic diversity of major crops is therefore important, both scientifically and socio-economically” (Arencibia, 2000, p. 30). Mankind cannot go without the genetic approach when facing a demographic boom on the planet and probable migrations of people. It is emphasized also with natural cataclysms appearing in different places of the world, which provide floods or dryness due to greenhouse gases.

The idea of crops protection with the implementation of molecular controls to “make crops resistant to new classes of herbicides” is maintained in the invention which was underlined by Daniel D. Chiras (2005) in Human Biology. Thus, genetic engineering is helpful for crops because of making them resistant to “drought, frost, pests, disease, and herbicides” (Environmental Issues, 2009). This advantage goes without saying in terms of better conditions for crops planting. Clifton E. Anderson (2003) in the same response evaluates the benefits of genetic engineering for farmers. Miller & Spoolman (2008) outline that notwithstanding the pest-resistant capacity of genetic engineering; this technology also is effective to resist “genetically altered crops that produce natural pesticides” (Miller & Spoolman, 2008, p. 148). Also if the danger of crops decrease appears, nanotechnologies and genetic engineering will be helpful to clone different specimens of plants. This idea is outlined in the investigation work by Lawrence Alderson (2000). Thus, this researcher points out that the conservation of genetic research provided an extinction of more than 30 breeds of livestock on the British Isles during the twentieth century because of a lack of proper genetic stimulation for these animals. Moreover, genetic engineering can make it possible for people to breed cows with milk and meat of high quality, ships with more wool, pigs with less fat, and more meat (Environmental Issues, 2009). Genetically modified bacteria can make the problem of environmental pollution solved due to the ability of such microbes to absorb and break down the oil and heavy metals in water, air, and land (Environmental Issues, 2009). It will surely make the planet cleaner and safer. Many of such organisms were implemented into the wild already.

Michael Kent (2000) in his book Advanced Biology promotes other advantages of genetic engineering which touch upon the DNA structure of organisms so that to take genetic probes for their further use in artificial DNA synthesis. The author describes the current as well as potential use of this technology for prevention from genetic diseases utilizing “location, isolation, modification, and transferring” of donor genes toward host cells (Kent, 2000, pp. 406). Though, as it is seen, the practical use of genetic engineering along with nanotechnologies goes beyond ordinary understanding of all benefits which these technologies present for people in terms of their health improvement. Furthermore, genetic engineering gave many scientists possibilities to look into the “mystery” of a human gene and provide further researches in the field of human cloning.

Along with straightforward advantages, which can be assumed in terms of bioengineering, people are confronted with limitations and even dangers of suchlike a trend in science. Many people consider genetic engineering non-ethnic because they do not want to value domestic animals as a sort of machine. Moreover, crops may lose genuine genes due to o suchlike manipulations and may extinct, as a result. About livestock, disadvantages touch upon “a reduction in genetic diversity; potential and unforeseen health problems from genetically altered products” (Environmental Issues, 2009). Pest and herbicide resistance of crops can probably kill insects and organisms which represent food for different types of animals. In return, it will cause a misbalance in the ecosystems (Environmental Issues, 2009). Such “universal” plants may also mutate due to genetic modifications and present danger for human beings. Releasing genetically engineered organisms into the wild is an issue of great concern for today.

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The extent of natural fruits and vegetables along with gramineous plants lose their qualities due to the implementation of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in products. This point constitutes the fact that a dangerous approach of genetic engineering in its biodiversity presents a hazard for human beings’ health (Sparks, 2005). Sally Deneen (2003) provides in her article the fact that the risk of GMOs is considered with several possible implications for health. As this field of biotechnology is not well studied, thus, there is no positive feedback according to the effects after use of suchlike food. Moreover, many companies earn large sums of money due to, for example, the modification of soy. Such widespread within the society consideration about the danger coming from the genetically transformed organisms find controversy in the book by Pool and Esnayra (2001), where the authors state the results of the National Research Council, which proved that there is “no strict dichotomy between the health and environmental risks that can be posed by transgenic and conventional pest-protected plants” (Pool & Esnayra, 2001, pp. 2-3).

Miller & Spoolman (2008) also provide a scope of last data about the researches of GM food and probable risks, and along with the National Research Council (Pool & Esnayra 2001) which claimed that no harms are coming from GM food after more than seven years still, there is no assurance that such food is safe for health. Many scholars tend to think in this prospect that it will be seen after years, others insist that GM food is mutating little by little. Nevertheless, the mechanism of producing genetically engineered food is widely used at the moment. Thus, Miller & Spoolman (2008) admit in their work:

Critics recognize the potential benefits of genetically modified crops. But they warn that we know too little about the long-term potential harm to human health and ecosystems from the widespread use of such crops. They point out that genetic engineering mixes genes from widely differing species, which has never occurred in nature or even in selective breeding (Miller & Spoolman, 2008, p. 145).

Such worries are not surprising. The thing is that nature is a highly balanced system, and the mechanisms in it are ordered to work as they were programmed primordially. One can logically suppose that those things which do not fit in nature can be rejected in it, or can cause several problems in the normal functioning of the biosphere. In the case of people, such disorder can al[so cause dysfunctions and the effects can be reflected on further generations of people. There is no assurance that such changes in the biological structure of organisms will improve the well-being of living organisms. Moreover, almost every scholar in this field expresses doubts about the future implementation of biotechnologies. Here the factor of a more rational approach toward the issue is significant, because any declension in the way of current researches on GM food may provoke negative results in practice.

Thus, the issue of genetic engineering still has many points which are poorly studied at the moment. The perspectives of this innovative technology strive beyond any possible dangers with lack of crops, livestock, and products so that to satisfy the needs of human beings. Among the advantages are protection, cultivation, cloning, etc. The issue of disadvantages props up against the worries of people according to possible harms to the environment. It is so due to probable total modification of nature which may reflect suchlike modification of human beings on the genetic molecular level.

Reference List

  1. Alderson, L 2000, ‘Genetic Diversity Blueprint’, Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 59, Washington.
  2. ‘All the News That Fits’ 2006, The Washington Times,  pp. A19, Washington.
  3. Anderson, CE 2000, ‘Genetic Engineering: Dangers and Opportunities’, The Futurist, Vol. 34, pp. 20, Washington.
  4. Arencibia, AD 2000, ‘Plant genetic engineering: towards the third millenium : proceedings of the International Symposium on Plant Genetic Engineering, 1999, Havana, Cuba’, Volume 5 of Developments in plant genetics and breeding, Elsevier, Amsterdam.
  5. Chiras, DD 2005, Human biology, Ed. 5, Jones & Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury.
  6. Deneen, S 2003, ‘Food Fight: Genetic Engineering vs. Organics The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, E, Vol. 14, pp. 26.
  7. Dingman, J 2008, ‘Nanotechnology: Its Impact on Food Safety’, Journal of Environmental Health, Vol. 70, No. 6, pp. 47, Atlanta Environmental Issues.
  8. Holthaus, GH 2006, ‘From the farm to the table: what all Americans need to know about agriculture’, Culture of the land, Culture of the land: a series in the new agrarianism, University Press of Kentucky, Lexington.
  9. Hood, E. (2004). ‘Nanotechnology: Looking as We Leap’, Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 112, No. 13, pp. 740, Washington.
  10. Kent, M 2000, ‘Advanced biology’, Advanced Science Series, Oxford University Press US, New York.
  11. Loomis, RS & Connor, DJ 1992, Crop ecology: productivity and management in agricultural systems, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  12. Messer, N 2006, SCM studyguide to Christian ethics, SCM-Canterbury Press Ltd, London.
  13. Miller, GT & Spoolman, S 2008, Sustaining the Earth Cengage advantage books, Ed. 9, Cengage Learning, Stamford.
  14. Pool, R & Esnayra, J 2001, Ecological monitoring of genetically modified crops: a workshop summary, National Academies Press, Washington.
  15. Sparks, DL 2005, ‘Advances in Agronomy, Volume 88’, Advances in Agronomy, Serial Publication Series, Gulf Professional Publishing, London.

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