A genetically modified organism is an organism containing genetic material that has been artificially altered to produce a desired characteristic.
The steps of genetic modification are: (1) Extract the DNA from the desired organism. (2) Scientists separate the single gene which is desired and clone the gene to make thousands of copies. (3) Once a gene has been cloned, genetic engineers begin the third step (gene design), designing the gene to work once inside a different organism. This is done in a test tube by cutting the gene apart with enzymes and replacing gene regions that have been separated. (4) Gene incursion is the transport the new genes and deliver them into the nucleus of a cell without killing it. Transformed plant cells are then regenerated into transgenic plants. The transgenic plants are grown to maturity in greenhouses and the seed they produce, which has inherited the advantageous characteristic, is collected.
(5) The last process is backcross breeding is where the plants are crossed back with the elite plant and the offspring are repeatedly bred to create the most advantageous plant.
Types of genetic modification:
Calcium Phosphate Precipitation: The DNA is exposed to calcium phosphate which creates small granules. The targeted cells react to the granules by essentially ingulfing them, thereby facilitating the granule release of DNA and the subsequent delivery to the host’s nuclei and chromosomes.
Biolistic for GM Technology: This technique uses the chosen DNA to attach it to tiny gold particles. The particles – now ‘carrying’ DNA – are forced into the target cells using an intense burst of gas.
Using Electroporation to Create GM Organisms:
In electroporation, the prepped target cells are saturated in a solution with the chosen DNA. A brief but strong electric shock is transmitted through the solution, causing little tears in the walls of the cells. This allows for the new genetic material to penetrate the nuclei. Afterwards, the cells are put in a different solution that promotes the repair of their walls, which works to ‘trap’ the DNA of the donor in the cell. The chosen DNA becomes joined with the host chromosomes to give the host this new gene.
Gene Silencing Technique:
With GM techniques, they are sometimes used to remove a gene that is responsible for an undesirable trait. When gene silencing is used, the gene that is responsible for this trait will first be identified in the organism. Then, another copy of the gene is attached but in the other direction, which prevents the expression of that trait.
With this GM technique, biotechnologists can modify DNA, and then insert it into target host cells to allow for genes and resulting traits to be modified. An enzyme is then used to fuse the newly added gene into the chromosome.
Pros and cons of genetic modification:
Pros of genetic modification:
1). Tackling and Defeating Diseases:
For instance, Cystic Fibrosis, a progressive and dangerous disease for which there is no known cure, could be completely cured with the help of selective genetic engineering.
2). Producing new foods:
Genetic modification can be used to design foods which are filled with extra nutrients or have better medical advances to be used as edible vaccines.
3). Increased Meat Production:
Scientists are able to produce a bread of animals such as cattle which produce abnormally sized muscle and tissue to increase the amount of meat that is produced to create more money and feed more people off one animal.
4). Increased resistance of plants to rotting and pests:
Scientists can insert genes for plants to produce toxins which can deter insect pests.
Cons of genetic modification:
1). The fear for unintended selection and any unwanted transfer of genes:
Some genes that are inserted might not be expressed in the right place. Such changes can alter the organisms growth.
2). Development of antibiotic resistance of disease causing organisms:
Another damaging effect of producing GM organisms is a condition called “antibiotic resistance “. In this phenomenon, the supposedly target organisms of antibiotics change in a way that they eventually become resistant to the drug. As a result, they will continue to survive, causing greater harm.
3). Resistance of pests to toxins:
Scientists fear that excessive production of genetically modified foods that have toxin producing property will be rendered ineffective over time. This is because the pests that these toxins used to deter might eventually develop resistance towards them.