Lately, I have had a few people ask my science teacher side to explain what exactly Genetically Modified Organisms and Genetic Engineering entail. Let me start by saying, I am NOT the expert, but I did find a couple of reference that I think help explain the terms. By definition, they are organisms that have modified on the genomic level. So their strand of DNA (A-T, G-C Double helix structure that give you the instructions for all protein structures in an organism) has been modified or altered in some way. The same thing happens when you have a baby.. some of the DNA from Mom and some of the DNA from Dad are expressed to make a new, stronger , healthier baby (if all goes according to plan). Sometimes random mutations happen and the new baby can be even healthier, or sadly, sometimes random mutations occur that make the new baby not quite as strong or healthy. Its all very random through the normal processes of reproduction.
As we as a culture and a species became much more in tuned with what was happening, we would purposely breed two creatures or plants to attempt to make offspring that had the desired traits. This works just fine, and its called selective breeding. Do you like your kitty or pooch? Thank selective breeding! The problem? Selective breeding is kind of a shot in the dark. You don't really know what traits are going to get passed along, and it takes a significant amount of time to get the desired results. Enter Stage Left: Biotechnology!!
Thank you modern science and your understanding of gene sequences. Plants that are genetically engineered are nothing short of a modern miracle, and I bet Gregor Mendel would have been doing cartwheels to see how this all worked (if monks do cartwheels). Is this a perfect system? Of course not, there is a great deal to learn about the process, but when we are looking at farming more effectively on less land and wanting to use less pesticides.. then GE is the way to go.
found this article to be helpful, especially if you have some knowledge
of genetics, genes, proteins and promoter sequences. The short answer
is that it is a protein. What makes the protein? A gene has to be
coded into the protein and the promoter
is was signals transcription and translation of the gene in question.
With Bt, the protein is not found in equal concentrations within the
plant. The great concentrations are in the regions that the lepidoptera
family likes to dine, namely the ears of the corn. By just targeting
moths, bees aren't harmed. If you have been following colony collapse
in our nation.. that is a big win for the honey bees. The less
insecticidal agents we can use the better! The whole thing is super
fascinating really. The moth larvae eats the corn, the Bt protein
causes their guts to kinda "fall apart" and they become septic and die.
Bad day for moths, good day for everybody else. Round up ready is a
different trait.. http://www2.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef130.asp
far as "round up ready" corn, soy and cotton there is no round up "in"
the plant as you asked earlier. It is also a genetically engineered
trait that allows the plant to create an enzyme (protein) that allows
the plant to continue to grow when the round
up is applied. Round up denies the plant a similar amino acid that
creates an enzyme that it needs to grow. I hope this helps some Here is an excerpt I found that explains how these plants work: Glyphosate tolerant crops
second major class of GMOs (mostly soy) have been engineered to be
tolerant of the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup). Glyphosate is a small
molecule that inhibits an enzyme, 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate
synthase (EPSPS), which catalyzes an essential step in the biosynthesis
of the amino acids phenylalanine, tyrosine and tryptophan. By denying
rapidly growing plants these amino acids, it is able to rapidly inhibit
grown of plants onto which it has been sprayed. Glyphosate is generally
considered to be inert in humans, who get these amino acids from their
food, and do not have an EPSPS.
obvious problem with using glyphosate to control weeds is that it will,
under normal circumstances, also kill crop plants. However, plants that
have been engineered to express an alternative form of EPSPS that
functions normally even in the presence of glyphosate. These plants are
thus “Roundup Ready“, and will survive doses of glyphosate used to kill
weeds in the field.
the EPSPS gene used in Roundup Ready plants comes from a bacterium, the
necessary changes could now easily be made to the plant’s own copy of
EPSPS. Thus Roundup Ready crops, which produce no new proteins not found
prior to genetic manipulation, shouldn’t really be places in the same
class of GMOs as Bt expressing plants, which are expressing a new
protein. And there is absolutely no reason to expect that there are any
health risks associated with eating the altered form of EPSPS found in
glyphosate resistant transgenic plants."
- See more at: http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=1135...
I hope this might be helpful to someone who is confused on the topic.