Genetically Modified Organisms

Genetically Modified Organisms

This controversial area of science raises many questions...

  • Crops that have been engineered to have resistance to a particular weeds, pests or diseases may produce long term side effects that spread into wild species, making them difficult to eradicate.
  • The development of crops with additional genes poses potential risks. Genes may transfer to related species by cross pollination, and affect the balance of natural communities.
  • Biodiversity of wildlife may be reduced by changes in the balance between food plants and wild stock.
  • Little is known as yet about the risks of movement of genes from crop to wild plants.

There are also some ethical issues that have to be faced...

  • Traditional genetics makes use of natural selection processes, whereas the movement of genes across species boundaries diminishes species uniqueness and has a degree of 'creating life'.
  • Questions are raised about whether foods should be labelled, so that consumer choice is retained.
  • Scientists are mistrusted and do not sell their ideas well to the general public, earning them little confidence. The media is not well informed at times.
  • Patents have been taken out on genes, and this has added to the claims that humans are inventing life, and laying claim to its ownership.

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