Genetically Modified Organism – Meaning, Application, And 10 Examples Of GMOs

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Genetically Modified Organism

In recent years, there has been extensive discussion and debate surrounding the healthiness of GMOs. These genetically engineered organisms have been created for various purposes. GMO products are derived from organisms whose genetic code has been altered.

Advocates of GMOs argue that they have the potential to provide benefits such as higher crop yields, improved nutrition, and resistance to diseases. In the following paragraphs, we will explore the applications and examples of GMOs.

GMO, an acronym for Genetically Modified Organism, is a term used to describe plants, animals, or microorganisms that have undergone genetic changes in their genome through advanced genetic engineering techniques.

These modifications are aimed at altering specific characteristics of the organism. The genome of a GMO can be altered by introducing, enhancing, or deleting genes within a species, between species, or even across different kingdoms.

The United States is the top consumer of genetically modified (GM) crops globally. It has been at the forefront of adopting GM technology in agriculture for many years. If you reside in the United States, there is a high probability that you consume food products containing ingredients derived from GMO crops.

The process of creating a genetically modified organism (GMO) begins on a microscopic scale. A scientist introduces a specific gene into the DNA of a single cell’s nucleus.

The DNA used for this modification is incredibly minuscule, to the point where it cannot be observed even with the most advanced microscope. Although a cell is tiny, its nucleus contains a substantial amount of DNA that is tightly packed.

After modifying a single cell, the scientist will utilize plant hormones that occur naturally to initiate the growth and development process. Through division, the modified cell will multiply, and the subsequent cells will gradually acquire specific roles, eventually forming a complete plant.

As the new plant originated from a single cell with the inserted gene, all the cells in the regenerated plant will possess this new gene.

However, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have applications beyond just crops and agriculture. There are various other areas where GMOs are used, including the following:

Applications Of GMOs

  • Medicine

GMOs have made significant contributions to the progress of medical science and healthcare. Some instances of these contributions include the creation of pharmaceuticals. Genetically modified microorganisms, like bacteria or yeast, are utilized to manufacture medications such as insulin, vaccines, and other therapeutic proteins.

Furthermore, GMO animals, such as mice, are employed in scientific research to investigate human diseases and assess the effectiveness of potential treatments.

  • Environmental Conservation

GMOs can serve environmental goals, including bioremediation, where genetically modified microorganisms are engineered to degrade pollutants and assist in environmental restoration.

Moreover, genetic modification can aid in the conservation of endangered species by addressing concerns such as habitat loss or vulnerability to diseases.

  • Animal Agriculture

In animal agriculture, genetic engineering is employed to enhance the well-being and efficiency of livestock. For instance, genetically modified animals can be created to possess resistance against particular diseases or to exhibit specific desirable characteristics, such as increased milk production or leaner meat.

  • Industrial Applications

GMOs have been utilized in industrial applications to improve effectiveness and output. For instance, in biofuel production, genetically modified microorganisms or crops are utilized to enhance the quantity and efficiency of biofuel production.

Similarly, in industries such as textiles and manufacturing, GMOs can be engineered to produce fibres or materials with specific attributes, offering advantages in terms of quality and performance.

Examples Of Genetically Modified Organisms

  1. Bt Cotton

    Bt cotton is a type of cotton that has been genetically modified to generate a toxin sourced from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacteria. This toxin is toxic to specific insects such as bollworms and budworms, providing natural protection against these pests and decreasing reliance on chemical insecticides.

  2. Soybean

    Most of the soybeans cultivated in the United States are genetically modified (GMO). These GMO soybeans are predominantly utilized in animal feed for livestock and poultry, as well as in the manufacturing of soybean oil. GMO soy is commonly incorporated as an ingredient in processed food products.

  3. Golden rice

    Vitamin A deficiency is prevalent in many developing countries. To tackle this issue, scientists have genetically modified rice to contain beta-carotene, which can be converted into vitamin A.

    This enhanced version of rice, called golden rice, has been developed to combat vitamin A deficiency and its associated health problems, such as blindness.

  4. Corn

    A majority of corn crops have been genetically modified (GMO). GMO corn varieties are predominantly designed to withstand insect pests or withstand herbicides. One such GMO corn variety is Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn, which produces proteins that are harmful to specific insect pests but safe for humans, pets, livestock, and other animals.

  5. AquAdvantage SalmonAtlantic salmon (Salmo salar) has been genetically modified to have a constant and increased appetite, enabling them to grow at a faster rate throughout the year. This modification is intended to enhance the efficiency of salmon farming. By reducing the time required for salmon to reach a suitable size for human consumption, this genetic modification makes them more suitable for commercial production.
  6. AppleSeveral types of genetically modified apples have been created to prevent browning when sliced or cut. This modification aims to reduce food waste, as many individuals perceive brown apples as being spoiled and are therefore less likely to consume them.
  7. Citrus crops

    To address the issue of citrus greening, a disease that poses a threat to citrus crops, researchers are using genetic modification techniques to develop oranges that are resistant to the virus. This virus is typically transmitted to crops by small herbivorous insects known as citrus psyllids.

    Scientists have achieved resistance by incorporating genes from the spinach plant, which has the ability to combat the virus, into a harmless vector virus called citrus tristeza virus.

  8. Papaya

    The development of this genetically modified papaya involved equipping it with resistance against the papaya ringspot virus. Through the introduction of a gene sourced from the virus, the papaya plant gains the ability to protect itself from the virus and avoid potential damage to the crop.

  9. Pink Pineapple

    The genetically modified pink pineapple was created by raising the lycopene levels, a natural pigment found in pineapples that gives tomatoes their red colour and watermelons their pink hue, in order to give the pineapple flesh a pink colour.

  10. Potato

    Certain genetically modified (GMO) potatoes were engineered to have increased resistance against insects and diseases. Also, specific GMO potato types were developed to minimize bruising and browning that commonly occurs when cutting in the kitchen.

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