Thursday, 5 February 2015

Effects of GMOs on food security

Genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Recombinant  DNA  technology uses  DNA molecules from  different  sources  in  order  to combine  them  into  one  molecule  to  create  a new set of genes. The term GM foods are most commonly used to refer to crop plants created for human or animal consumption using the latest molecular biology techniques. These plants have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content. The best known example is Bt. cotton, transgenic maize and golden rice.
Food security means access by all members at all times to enough food for an active&healthy life.Food  security  exists  when  all  people,  at  all times,  have  physical  and  economic  access  to sufficient,  safe  and  nutritious  food  to  meet their  dietary  needs  and  food  preferences  for an active and healthy life.Food  security  includes  at  a  minimum  the  ready availability  of  nutritionally  adequate  and  safe foods,  and  an  assured  ability  to  acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.
In the years 2012-2014, an estimated 842 million people were suffering from chronic hunger (FAO).The FAO identified the four pillars of food security as availability, access, utilization, and stability.GM crops posed serious problems through complex interaction between modified genetics and ecology in the environment.
The serious problems posed by some GM crops are the allergic reactions in some susceptible people.Proteins are produced in some crops which have allergic reactions and if the genes encoding these allergic proteins are introduced into the other crops through genetic engineering technique produced same effect in susceptible peoples. For example, a gene from Brazil nut is introduced in corn and caused allergy in susceptible people who took the products of corn as food.
The most widely used promoter is the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter.This promoter was obtained from the virus that causes cauliflower mosaic disease in several vegetables such as; cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage & canola.
There are concerns that the CaMV promoter might be harmful if it were to invade our cells & turn on our genes.The gene transfer from crop to weeds making them herbicides resistant i.e. formation of super weeds.Cotton oil is used in cooking oils containing Bt. Toxins which causes serious stomach disorders and are future threats.
Insect resistance, virus tolerance, herbicide tolerance, drought resistance, nutrients enhancement, phytoremediation, yield increase are positive aspects of GMOs. Worldwide, 7% of children suffer vitamin A deficiency, many of them living in regions in which rice is a staple of the diet.

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