GMO and the Dilemma of Advantages or Disadvantages of Use
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) present as a dilemma in today’s society. Everyone seems to have a strong opinion one way or the other. Even major groups within the science discipline such as doctors and scientist often sit on the opposite sides of the spectrum.
GMOs are organisms which have been genetically altered to possess advantageous genes (Meilan).
The first GMO technology was introduced by Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen in 1973 (Cohen et al. 1973). The tandem was able to transfer gene coding for antibiotic resistance from one bacteria to another (Cohen et al. 1973). Soon after, this technology also began to be used in experimentation with animals.
GMOs provide substantial advantages including but not limited to reduction in the utilization of pesticides and herbicides, stronger crops, more nutritious foods, and use of previously unfarmable land (Ayres 2018). In a study conducted in 2009, it was shown nearly 80% of crops are lost every year attributed to environmental stress (Ream 2009). The study concluded by saying the use of GMOs can greatly increase yield by 60-80% (Ream 2009).
While there are many advantages there are also a lot of disadvantages including but not limited to lower level of biodiversity, expenses of GMO technology, formation of super weeds or superbugs, increase in antibiotic resistance, and lack of labeling regulations (Ayres 2018).
The process of genetically modifying an organism is a simple concept, yet one which involves many steps. The first of many is to find a gene of intertest that benefits the organism which is then followed by cloning of the gene (Kamle et al., 2017). The cells are then engineered into a plasmid along with the promoter and terminator, CaMV 35S and NOS respectively (Kamle et al., 2017). The promotor CaMV 35S and terminator NOS are used because they function in plants and are also widely recognized by plants (Kamle et al., 2017).
There are no international legislations for GMOs, so GMOs are regulated individually by every country. In the US, foods can be labeled GM Free if they contain 1% GM content (Green America). In Japan, foods are required to be labeled GM if they contain > 5% GM content (Green America). In a global study conducted in 2018, it was shown that most countries are divided on GM policies and while some countries regulate the modification of every crop others don’t have regulations for any crop (Borges et al., 2018). These GM legislations become unclear as trade import and exports are factored in.
GM crops can be identified by two different types of technologies: ELISA and PCR (Kamle et al., 2017). Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay efficiently and accurately detects GMOs by identifying proteins from farm produced crops (Kamle et al., 2017). Polymerase Chain Reaction can detect 85% of all crop GMOs by using DNA sequences (Kamle et al., 2017).
The purpose of this study was to test for the presence of GMOs in Spectrum Essential’s Organic Whole Flax Seeds. It was hypothesized Spectrum Essential’s Organic Whole Flax Seeds would contain no GMOs as the packaging was labeled Non-GMO Project Verified.