Today I’m going to begin a series around this topic. I’ve been hearing a lot about GMO’s for a minute now and have decided to look into this hot topic myself. I’ve been studying y’all. First things first, What is it and how did it come to be?
Genetic Modification; a biological technique that effects alterations in the genetic machinery of living organisms.
Genetically Modified Organisms; The altering of genetic material of microorganisms “that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.” as described by the World Health Organization (WHO). Comparatively the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Commission define a GMO as a product “not occurring naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.” Essentially the same thing.
Recombination; a.k.a genetic reshuffling, the production of offspring with combinations of traits that differ from those found in either parent.
However M.J. Oliver PhD points out that a closer definition of GMO would be “biotechnologically modified organisms“. Using as an example the 19th century grain Triticale. This grain was created by crossing wheat with rye and is widely used in Pasta. A conventional selective breeding approach was used and the resulting hybrid is sterile. Fast forward to the 1930’s and the use of the chemical colchicine (as defined by Wikipedia) is a medication most commonly used to treat gout, and it is derived from the genus Colchicum. It is a toxic natural product and secondary metabolite, present also in what is commonly known as “meadow saffron”, autumn crocus, or naked ladies and is an autumn blooming plant. The use of colchicine generated polyploid embryo cells which are fertile. This grain Triticale can therefore fit the definition of a GMO even though the process of the genetic modification is rather primitive by current molecularly biological standards.
Scientists discovered that genetic material could be transplanted between species in 1944. Although the history of genetically engineered DNA molecules really begins with Charles Darwin’s notions of species variation and selection.
1954 Francis H Crick and James Watson explained the Double Helix structure of DNA, “Central set of Rules” that DNA transfers data to the messenger RNA (ribonucleic acid) one of the major biological macromolecules that are quintessential to the makeup of the nature of something or someone.
1963 The genetic code is deciphered by Nobel Laureate Marshall Nirenberg and others.
1973 Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer created DNA cloning.
From this point on many scientists conducted multiple works. 1977 through 2003 when the human genome sequencing was completed.
The first GM plants were produced by three independent research groups in 1983. The plants were antibiotic resistant tobacco and petunias. China was the first to commercialize genetically modified tobacco crops in the early 1990’s. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a genetically modified species of tomato with the genetic property design to delay ripening.
Over time, several transgenic crops have been approved by the FDA. I want to point out here that the FDA walks hand in hand with Big Agriculture and Big Pharmaceutical Companies, who as we know are all about the bottom line. As for the repercussions that may result they’ll find a way to weasel out of or battle through the courts with their unlimited resources to prevent any accountability on their part should the future provide adverse results from these modifications. Who knows?
Next we will explore whether or not GM foods are necessary.
Til then let me know what you think or what questions you may have in the comments.