Is Genetic Engineering of Crops the Way Ahead?

This is a case study I put together in a Geography lesson covering the basics of GM and the social, economic and environmental costs and benefits of the process.

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  • Created by: Liz Hunt
  • Created on: 08-05-09 08:30
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Genetic engineering is the process by which molecules are manipulated to make the crop that is
being transformed of better quality. Genetically modifying crops can be quite controversial because
whilst farmers and supermarkets for example will get more money for selling better quality produce,
environmentalists argue that GM crops are not natural and the full extent of the potential damage
caused by such crops is yet to be discovered.
This report will investigate the arguments in favour of and opposing genetic engineering.
What Happens To Crops During Genetic Modification
There are four steps in the process of genetic engineering of crops.
1) The desired gene (which in this case may make crops live longer for example) is isolated.
2) The isolated gene is then put into an appropriate vector, which can then replicate the
information held within the gene.
3) The gene is then transformed to be modified.
4) The gene is tested to see if it has taken up the vector, and only in the genes where this is
successful will they survive.
Why Genetic Engineering IS The Way Ahead
Environmental Impact: Biotechnology companies and some scientists say that producing GM
crops is more efficient and environmentally friendly than growing them the traditional way they also
say that they are costeffective as GM crops have lower costs of production because
herbicideresistant and insectresistant plants produce higher yields, according to Monsanto, a major
GM producer.
Economic Impact: The Nuffield Council of Bioethics say that GM crops can be a good aid to
LEDCs, especially with some GM crops being developed so that they can survive drought conditions
for example.
Social Impact: In 2004, the UK Government said in a statement that there is no scientifically proved
reason why genetically modified crops should be completely banned, supported by the British Medical
Association and a Norwegian Board Of Technology who found that the use of GM crops has not

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The Royal Society (the national
academy of science) argue that GM crops can also be beneficial to our health as they can be
enriched with nutrients that can be used to address human health issues.
Why Genetic Engineering Is NOT The Way Ahead
Environmental Impact: So called `Green groups' such as Friends Of The Earth and Greenpeace as
well as organic farmers argue against GM crops, saying that they can lead to a whole lot of
environmental and health hazards.…read more


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