GMO’s: Genetically Modified Organisms
Genetically Modified Organisms • • • •
GMO’s, GM GE (Genetically Engineered) Transgenic “Frankenfoods”
DNA from 1 organism transplanted into another
Overview of an Organism • Organism • Organs systems • Tissues • Cells • Organelles • Molecules • Atoms
DNARNAProteins Proteins: molecules that provide physical structure, hormones, enzymes, etc.
DNA: molecule made of “bases” and “backbone”
Genes: specific physical sequences of DNA that code for specific proteins Brown eyes sequence: AAAAGCGCCCGG Blue eyes sequence: AAATGCGCCCGC http://www.mrpscience.com/Genetics/DNAFingerprint.htm
Chromosome: one long, double‐stranded DNA molecule, containing many genes
“Genetically Modified” DNA from 1 organism transplanted into another Conventionally done via • Hybridization • Selective breeding
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) Genetic Engineering: transplanting DNA (gene) from one organism to another
How to create transgenic organisms: Gene gun
Why Create GMOs? • • • • • • •
Better taste Better appearance Faster growth Longer shelf‐life Improved nutrition Pest‐resistant Herbicide resistant
Advantages of GMOs: •Increased crop yield/efficiency of food production •Drought/frost resistant crops •Disease resistant crops •Improved nutritional content • Decreased allergenicity
•Food without toxins or allergens •Plants that contain vaccines •Animals that produce pharmaceutical drugs •Animals that grow faster, eat less •Animals that could donate organs?
Wild‐type plant Salt‐tolerant plant
AquAdvantage salmon vs. Wildtype
Potential Disadvantages of GMOs • Human health risks (allergies) • Ecological/environmental risks (contamination) • Economic/social justice concerns (patents, intellectual property)
Concerns Regarding GMOs
• GMOs could “escape” • Might interbreed with wild relatives • Might accelerate pesticide resistance • Unequal access to technology
Specific Examples of GMOs • Bt corn • Round‐up ready crops • Flavr Savr tomatoes http://blogs.cornell.edu/agsci‐interns/2012/08/05/highlights‐of‐crop‐scouting‐with‐wnycma/
Bt Corn Bt genes – inserted into corn genome (gene gun technology) Corn plant that can produce Bt in every cell Advantages over topically applied powder: ‐ Bt toxin not destroyed by UV, heat, dessication ‐ wider coverage of insect feeding sies ‐ no guessing as when to apply
U.S. Government Regulation of GMOs 1.
EPA – evaluates for environmental safety
USDA – evaluates whether the plant is safe to grow
FDA – evaluates whether the plant is safe to eat
Examples: Bt corn or RoundUp Ready soybeans – checked by EPA Bt corn (ear) – checked by USDA Bt corn (in cornflakes) – checked by FDA
Roundup Herbicide, Created by Monsanto in 1970
Pros and Cons… Pros: Increase crop yields Affects enzyme only in plants Cons: Superweeds/resistance Human health effects Environmental impacts (soil/water contamination)
RoundUp‐Ready Crops: • Crops genetically modified to be resistant to Roundup •Currently Include: soy, corn, canola, alfalfa, cotton, sorghum (wheat is under development) •"terminator seeds“‐‐ crops produced from Roundup Ready seeds are sterile.
Current Use of GMOs • GMOs are used internationally • U.S. majority of soybeans, cotton, corn are GMOs • 60% of all processed food estimated to contain GMOs • No “GMO” label is required in the U.S.
U.S. Labeling Laws The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently requires labeling of GM foods if: • the food has a significantly different nutritional property • a new food includes an unexpected allergen (e.g., a peanut protein in a soybean product) • if a food contains a toxicant beyond acceptable limits.
Pro‐labeling Arguments • Consumers have a right to know what’s in their food • Would allow consumers to identify and avoid food products that cause them problems. • Some people want to avoid eating animal products, including animal DNA.
Anti‐labeling Arguments • No significant differences between GMO and conventional foods have been detected. • Would impose a cost on all consumers. • Certified organic foods by definition cannot be produced with GM ingredients. • Current food system could not accommodate segregation of GM and non‐GM products. • No GE products currently on the market or under review contain animal genes
FDA Voluntary Guidelines for Labeling • If GMO food is significantly different, the name must be changed to describe the difference. • If a bioengineered food has a significantly different nutritional property, its label must reflect the difference. • If a new food includes an allergen, the presence of that allergen must be disclosed on the label.
Issues with Mandatory Labeling • What specific technologies for crop variety development would require a label? • What percentage of a GE ingredient must be present in a food before a label is required? • Would meat, eggs and dairy products from livestock that are fed transgenic crops require labeling? • How should regulators verify claims that a food is or is not genetically engineered? • What is the economic impact of labeling?
California Proposition 37 Genetically Engineered Foods Labeling Initiative Statute • Raw or processed food made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways. • Prohibits labeling or advertising such food, or other processed food, as “natural.”
Prop 37 Exempts foods that are: – unintentionally produced with GM material – made from animals fed or injected with GM material but not GM themselves – processed with or containing only small amounts of GM ingredients – administered for treatment of medical conditions – sold for immediate consumption such as in a restaurant – alcoholic beverages