Genetically Modifying Plants

These cards explain the uses, advantages, disadvantages of Geneticall Modifying plants.

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The Advantages

What are the Advantages?

-By making herbicide resistant plants this means it is easier to kill weeds with out killing the crops themselves , this will mean less herbicide used overall.

-You can make plants resistant to pests and disease

- You can increase the nutritional value of food, Its "shelf life", or its flavour or texture ,even make it with less ingredients people areallergic to eg nuts

- You can grow GM plants in hostile enviroments (droughts)

- Produce food with added health benefitsvaccines.

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The Method

How do you Genetically Modify Plants? It is done different from Modifying bacteria.

1- You need to get a plant that is already resistant to herbicide (or pests, whatever you're trying to do) and work out which gene is responsible.

2- You then cut out this gene (with a restriction enzyme) from one of the plant cells.

3- You then take an Agrobacterium tumefaciens bacterium and take out a circular loop of DNA (plasmid) cut it open and insert the herbicide resistant gene. 

4- Then you allow the genetically modified Agrobacterium tumefaciens bacteria to 'infect' cells of the 'target plant'.

5- The bacteria will insert their genes (including the herbicide-resistant gene) into the plant's DNA

6- These cells are then cultivated on a medium containing the herbicide . Any plants that grow have to have the herbicide-resistant gene. 

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Some people NEED GM plants

Some people don't have enough food due to war, drought, poor soil, pests,and being dependent on one crop.

There are many people who are malnourished because they don't have enough food or their diets are not suffieciently balanced.

This is more common in developing countries such as some in Africa.

WAR- This forces many people to flee from their land so they can't grow food.

DROUGHT- causes crops to fail.

POOR SOIL- lack of soil nutrients means some crops don't grow.

PESTS- eg.Locusts destroy crops 

BEING DEPENDENT ON ONE CROP- could lead to nutritional deficiency

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Biotechnology could help..but not everyone agrees

It could help....

It can't help with issues like war but crop scientists can help some areas by..

-genetically engineering crops to be resistant to pests, improving crops yield.

-genetically engineering crops to grow better in drought conditions , improving crops yield.

-and some crops can be engineered to combat certain deficiency diseases.GM crops could help as GM cotton could be sold for profit and reduce poverty.

..But not everyones likes the idea

People argue that people go without food because they can't afford it not because there isn't any. So they argue Poverty should be made priority. Also countries may become dependent on companies that sell GM crops.Finally Poor soil is the main reason for no crops and even GM crops cant handle that. 



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The Disadvantages of GM crops

What are the Disadvantages?

Well first some of the transplanted genes may let out into the natural enviroment and get out of control. For example if the herbicide resistant gene is picked up by weeds this would create a whole species of "superweeds".

Also some people think that GM crops will affect the number of weeds and flowers that usually lives in and around the crops. This will reduce farmland biodiversity, although herbicides have the same affect. 

Finally not everyone is convinced that GM crops are safe. There is speculation that people may start to develop allergies to this food. Although no unexpected effects have been found in the food being sold currently. 

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