Genetically Modified Crop Plants example

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Genetically Modified Crop Plants

Genetic engineering was first introduced as a set of laboratory methods, which were used for the experimental study of genomes and their elements. However, later it became an important tool of biotechnology, which was used for the creation of organisms with improved properties for the benefit of humans. Genetic engineering of plants started in the late 1980s, and it was directed for the improvement of agriculturally important crops (Prado et al., 2014). Today, transgenic corn, soybean, and cotton plants show advantages over non-modified species (Prado et al., 2014). However, application of such plants results in multiple social and ethical issues, which are addressed in the paper.

Biological Basis for Technology

Obtainment of genetically modified crop plants is based on gene code identity in all domains of life. It allows for the transfer and functioning of genes, which determine some favorable trait, in the organisms of non-host species (Jones, Fosbery, Gregory & Taylor, 2013). The other important principle, which lies in the basis of genetically modified plants production, is presence of natural vector, ensuring the transfer of genes from bacterial pathogen to plants. Ti plasmid, isolated from Agrobacterium tumefaciens, is a natural shuttle vector, which can integrate into plant genome (Jones et al., 2013). This plasmid can be modified by scientists for the delivery of the target gene into crop cells.

At the same time, obtainment of genetically modified plants is a complex process, which incorporates several steps. The isolation of the target gene and opening of Ti plasmid is usually performed with the help of restriction enzyme, which produces sticky ends (Jones et al., 2013). Complementary pairing between these single-stranded fragments allows for association between the foreign gene and the plasmid (Prado et al., 2014). DNA ligase is applied for the formation of phosphodiester bond between the two fragments, and thus, stabilization of the recombinant plasmid (Jones et al., 2013). Then, the obtained circular DNA is inserted into A. tumefaciens cells, which are used to infect the crop. During this contact, the recombinant plasmid moves from bacteria to plant cells. Callus culture is produced for the selection of plant cells, which have gained the plasmid (Prado et al., 2014). They are used for further obtainment of multiple adult plants by means of hormones, which stimulate cell differentiation (Jones et al., 2013). The produced organisms contain the desired gene, and they are characterized by the additional properties, which can be useful for humans.

Social and Ethical Implications

Although genetically modified crops are characterized by multiple benefits compared to their non-modified analogues, numerous issues still arise on their introduction and use. The primary implication is associated with safety of genetically modified crops as food source. In spite of the fact that scientists from different regions of the world try to address this question, there is still no ultimate answer. It is easy to identify the possible health issue, which is caused by the food product, while it is difficult to show that it does not …

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