Genetic Engineering: A Step Forward
Length: 498 words (1.4 double-spaced pages)
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Growing genetically engineered foods can help eliminate the application of chemical pesticides, reducing the run-off of agriculture wastes that can poison valuable water sources and cause harm to the environment (Deal and Baird 2003). GE can also engineer plants with highly specific disease resistances (Cooper et al. 2004, Duveiller and Sharma 2008) and help fulfill nutritional goals by adding vitamins, protein and vaccines (Nichols 2000, Poitras 2000, Livermore 2002). An example of how GE can help fulfill nutritional goals by adding vitamins to a crop is rice. Rice is not a source of vitamins in particular vitamin A, and yet it is widely consumed around the world. Vitamin A deficiency is most common in young children and pregnant women and can lead to blindness, susceptibility to infectious diseases, and death (Lemaux 2008). According, to a team of scientist, led by Dr. Ingo Potrykus, professor of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, has produced transformed rice (golden rice), which does indeed express beta-carotene, a vitamin A precursor (Livermore 2002).
Through agriculture and local trade, golden rice is expected to reach the target populations in developing countries, where vitamin A deficiency prevails, grains from Golden rice is expected to provide this important micronutrient sustainably (Al-Babili and Beyer 2005).
Not only can GE help nutritionally, it can also help small farmers economically especially in areas where it lacks financial stability as well as arable land. Studies have shown that using genetically engineered farming can increase crop productivity by as much as 25 percent (Deal and Baird 2003).