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Progress In the Realm of
Genetic Engineering
By: Kristin Dibble
ENG 102 Sec. 2346
Purpose of Research:
 Define genetic engineering
 Discover uses of genetic engineering for agriculture;
specifically, how it can be used to benefit underdeveloped
 Report on recent developments within this branch of
 Outline the dangers involved when altering plants
 Discover solution to technology distribution
What is genetic engineering?
 Genetic engineering is a branch
of biotechnology used to alter
the genes of plants and animals.
 This is possible through gene
splicing, or “copying and
pasting” genes from one species
into a new species.
 Plants can take on vast
improvements when different
genes are added to them
because hundreds of known
genes can be transferred
Concerns About Genetic Altering
“Messing with” Mother
Nature could be considered
Human error could result in
the distribution on
unwanted genes in food
that we consume.
Genetically Modified (GM)
crops could possibly escape
into the wild and take over
naturally occurring crops
Pests and weeds could
possibly build up an
immunity to pesticides and
herbicides with increased
use (plants are bred to
withstand excess
Benefits of GM crops
 Big step toward curing diet deficiencies in
rural countries
 Adds nutritional value to food
 Pesticide and herbicide resistant crops
 Plants bred to be pathogen resistant
 Crops can endure extreme weather
Diet Deficiencies
 In rural Asia, approx. 140,000
children suffer from loss of
eyesight due to a lack of vitamin
A in their diets (Willet).
 A new strain of rice has been
bred with more vitamin A
Added Nutrition
 Folic Acid and Vitamin B12
have been added to flour
and cereals in the U.S. to
prevent Neural Tube
Defects, which currently
make up eight percent of
all birth defects (Geisel).
Pesticide and Herbicide Resistance
 Crops can now be bred with the Bt toxin which makes the plant deadly
to certain pests that feed on the plant. This reduces the harm of using
excess pesticides on the environment (Rader).
 Herbicide tolerant crops are easier to care for because we can now
spray Roundup by airplane (Walker).
Pathogen Resistance
 GM crops are more durable than natural crops because
they can withstand onslaughts of diseases and infections.
– UH Rainbow Papaya -> resists ringspot virus (Walker)
– Cavendish Bananas -> resists Sigatoka fungus (Rader)
– Grapes from FL -> resists Pierce’s disease (Walker)
Extreme Weather Durability
GM crops can be planted in previously unusable land,
such as the desert.
A tomato strain was created to retain salt in its leaves. This allows the
plant to retain water longer.
Crops that could not survive in winter are now bred to
produce year round.
ex: New strain of eggplant
What could go wrong?
 Imprecise technology could disrupt normal cell function
because cross-over is random.
 Solution: Testing is absolutely necessary!
 Biodiversity could be decreased if GM crops take over
naturally occurring crops.
 Solution: GM gene release could be
counteracted with re-release mechanism
 Allergens could be transferred to foods making them
unsafe for consumption.
Technology Distribution
 The technology is readily available, the problem is how to
distribute it to the countries that could benefit the most from
 GM crops are expensive to research and maintain.
 GM crop manufacturers use technology protection systems
causing farmers to continue to pay new fees for their GM
crops each year (Walker).
 Underdeveloped countries lack funds and resources for
•The U.S. utilizes
most of the world’s
currently distributed
GM crops. The U.S.,
being one of the
world’s most
successful and
economically stable
countries, does not
have to depend
upon agriculture.
Many other countries
that thrive off of
agriculture are not
reaping the benefits
of GM crops.
[Figure 1]
Distribution Solution
 An international organization is needed to assume
the responsibility of overseeing and distributing
GM crops.
 The needs of individual populations could then be
more specifically addressed and met.
 As the world’s population continues to grow, the need for
improved nutrition and increased resources is
 GM farmers and researchers need support!
 GM crops offer real remedies for suffering nations!
Geisel, Janet. “Folic acid and neural tube defects in pregnancy: A review.”
Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing Frederick Oct-Dec 2003. Vol.
17, Iss. 4: 268-279
Figure 1. “Percent of Global Land Area Planted in Biotechnology Varieties by
Country.” Graph. Aug. 2004
Rader, Charles M. “A Report on Genetically Engineered Crops”. Apr., 2006.
Tripod.com. 24 Oct. 2006.
Walker, Sharon. Biotechnology Demysitfied: A Self-Teaching Guide. Ed. Judy Bass.
McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2006.
Willett, Edward. Genetics Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide. McGraw-Hill
Companies, Inc., 2006.