Genetic modification of plants involves inserting segments of DNA into the chromosome to produce desired traits in the resulting plant. It is commonly used to make plants resistant to insects and to herbicides. This reduces the costs of farming by reducing the amounts of insecticides used and making the plants resistant to the effects of herbicide spraying, thereby increasing crop yields. It also means the foods are safer for human consumption because of the reduced use of toxic pesticides and herbicides.
Genetic modification can also be used to improve the nutritional value of foods, such as by adding vitamins, and making crops which tolerate normally adverse growing conditions, which helps many farmers in third world countries increase their crop yields and provided much needed food to starving peoples of the world. Other modifications help improve the shelf life of foods.
There are some safety concerns with the use of genetically modified food plants. Some people fear that these foods may contain allergens, which will cause serious reactions in humans. Others fear that crops modified to produce pharmaceutically active products may inadvertently cross-pollinate food crops and people may unknowingly consume these pharmaceutical products. While the use of genetically modified crops can certainly provide many benefits, particularly in areas of the world where there are many people who are seriously undernourished, controls must be put in place so that these crops do not become harmful to the people they are designed to help.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are organisms which have had their DNA altered by artificial means, such as gene splicing, rather than by natural recombination or combination due to mating (European Commission on Food Safety, 2003).
Why Plants Are Being Genetically Modified
Genetic modification of plants has been taking place for centuries (Lessick, Keithley, Swanson and Lemon, 2002)....