GMO’s – An Overview
GMO’s or Genetically Modified organisms are the living beings which have artificially manipulated genetic material. This is usually done in laboratory through genetic engineering and modern biotechnology techniques so that new characteristics can be added to the original organism.
Genetic manipulation involves mutation, insertion or deletion of desired genes. This is usually done by inserting genes to viral plasmids, inserting the extra DNA into the host nucleus with small syringe, by electroporation method or by gene gun method. This external DNA then gives special characteristics and new qualities to the original organism. The changes can make them more resistant to disease, bugs, or drought. It can also cause potential effect on taste and shelf life.
Genetically Modifying Organisms can Surprise you!
Rather focusing on the pros and cons of GMO’s (like they have benefits to your health and provide general welfare to the farming industry or have several potential drawbacks) why not to look just at the organisms that have been genetically modified? They can amaze you because of their characteristics.
Glo Fish is genetically modified fluorescent fish available in bright red, green, orange-yellow, blue and purple fluorescent colors. It is regarded as one of the first genetically modified animal which is publically available (Bratspies, 2005). Freshly “Electric Green”, “Sunburst Orange”, “Moonrise Pink”, “Starfire Red”, “Cosmic Blue”, and “Galactic Purple” have been added to the lineup. However, the rights to GloFish are owned by a company that commercializes the fish known as, Yorktown Technologies.
Blue rose, a flower of genus Rosa was genetically modified containing blue pigment delphinidin. In literature blue roses were regarded as the symbol of love and prosperity and white roses were dyed blue to use for presenting it to the loved ones. Later, Florigene, a Japanese company, created Suntory, a rose containing the blue pigment. The company claimed it as it is “blue rose”, but actually it got fame as “Blue Moon”, truthfully being lilac in color. So now you can buy this Blue rose and present it to your loved ones. It serves “as a symbol of congratulations for those whose dreams have come true, as well as of encouragement for those pursuing a dream, whatever it may be.” (Nosowitz, 2011). Thanks to Genetic Engineering!
Arctic apples, a product of Canadian biotechnology company Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF), are genetically modified as they contain a non-browning trait. Now you can eat the fleshy apples which remain in original color even if subjected to mechanical damage like slicing or bruising. These apples were made simply by gene silencing method. As a result, gene silencing reduced the expression of polyphenol oxidase (PPO), thus preventing the fruit from browning (Milkovich, 2011; Pollack, 2015).
Calcium enriched colorful Carrots – “Super Carrots”
Genetically modified carrot provides 50% more calcium than regular carrot. So in future these carrots can be used in treatment of Osteoporosis, a famous and widespread disease resulting from lack of calcium in the bones. So people won’t be taking pills rather eating genetically modified carrots would provide calcium directly (Yong, 2008).
Transgenic virus-resistant papayas – Rainbow Papayas
In 1998, Rainbow Papayas, a transgenic fruit was developed which is resistant to ringspot virus. It was developed few years back when half the crop in Hawaii was plagued by this virus (Gonsalves et al., 2004).
In US, Soy is the most heavily used GMO. It is genetically manipulated to have high level of oleic acid. Oleic acid being naturally found in Olive oil is monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid that may lower LDL cholesterol (traditionally thought of as “bad” cholesterol). It would be helpful in lowering the rate of cardiovascular diseases (Harlander and Roller, 2012).
Bratspies, Rebecca M. “Glowing in the dark: how America’s first transgenic animal escaped regulation.” Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology6.2 (2005): 457.
Gonsalves, Carol, David R. Lee, and Dennis Gonsalves. “Transgenic virus resistant papaya: The Hawaiian ‘Rainbow’was rapidly adopted by farmers and is of major importance in Hawaii today.” APSnet Feature, American Phytopathological Society, August–September: http://www. apsnet. org/online/feature/rainbow (2004).
Harlander, Susan, and Sibel Roller. Genetic modification in the food industry: A strategy for food quality improvement. Springer Science & Business Media, 2012.
Meet the genetically modified super-carrot, now fortified with calcium. Posted on 17 January, 2008 by Ed Yong.
Milkovich, M. “Non-browning apples cause controversy” Fruit Growers News. April 29, 2011.
Nosowitz, Dan (15 September 2011) Suntory Creates Mythical Blue (Or, Um, Lavender-ish) Rose Popular Science, Retrieved 30 August 2012.
Pollack, A. “Gene-Altered Apples Get U.S. Approval” New York Times. Feb 13, 2015.