Genetic Engineering in Agriculture

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Genetic engineering is the simulated modification and recombination of other nucleic acid and DNA molecules so that there is a modification of organisms or the population of organisms (Altieri, 2004). There are so many techniques used in the manipulation and modification of organism. Reproduction and heredity are some of the processes used in this case. Therefore the term genetic engineering has embraced both biomedical technique intervention and artificial selection, for instance, artificial insemination[1]

cloning, vitro fertilization, and gene manipulation.

 Consequently, the DNA technology involves the process of inserting foreign genes in the plasmids[2] in the common bacteria. Plasmids direct the protein synthesis such as DNA chromosomal and passed into the progeny of the bacterium. Apparently, some genetic engineering techniques have emerged in that there is gene editing[3]. Gene editing has been widely applied in the genetic modification of livestock, crops and model organisms in the laboratory (Altieri, 2004). Equally important, the global increase of the population has led to need of increasing the yield of crops in the same ecosystem. Therefore, a lot of people have turned to genetically engineered crops so that they will meet the demands of the world. The genetically modified crops are those which have had the DNA manipulated purposely to produce a particular beneficial outcome which is thus referred to as genetically modified organisms (Lock & Miles, 1993).

Due to this fact, the crops are designed in a way that has precise and limited genetic changes in order to benefit the environment or humans. Some of the crops are not consumed directly but they might be used as animal feeds. In the USA corn has been genetically produced since 1996. Due to this context, a lot of concerns have emerged because of the genetic manipulation of crops. People tend to ask if the crops are safe and also the benefits of the genetically modified organisms (Altieri, 2004).

The age of biotechnology is slowly impacting the modern societies in so many ways. That is why the application of different technologies in the places of human activities is being questioned from an ethical point of view. There are various arguments which are both for and against the use of technology in agriculture in relation to genetically modified organisms. In this context, we find that technology may be beneficial to the society since it improves crop production but also there is a fundamental argument from the ethical point of view.

The aim of using genetically modified crops is because of the reduction of poverty, so the introduction of genetic engineering to agriculture is predicted to bring better results since it will increase income. Those who are in defense of genetic engineering believe that the use of biotechnology in producing foods will help the poor. This is because most developed countries have embraced the use of genetically modified organisms hence capable of helping other poor nations.  For instance, countries affected by the vegetable diseases can get genetically produced pesticides so that the problem can be eliminated (Lock & Miles, 1993).

Frewer & Shepherd (1995) point out that the use of biotechnology is very important because it vehemently sustains food production. This is possible because the genetically modified organisms help in the production of larger quantities of food by producing aluminum and insect tolerance material which help in circumventing issues such as pests, drought, and acidic soil. Due to this approach farmers will get the profitable harvest.  The goals of using transgenic technique are to ensure an efficient food security and also to increase the competitiveness of their crops. Therefore those who are in support of GMOs believe that the political obligation is to assist in the well being and security of farmers (Altieri, 2004). There is also a concern of increasing vegetable and fruit yields. Technology in agriculture assists in the competitiveness of farmers in the global market by the sustaining of export productivity and food quality. On the same note, genetic c engineering promotes food safety in relation to food exports by the control of pesticide residue.

Altieri (2004) further notes that there are other impending consequences regarding genetic engineering of crops as a result of using biotechnology in agriculture. Issues in question about the use of genetically modified organisms include the effects of GMOs, lack of enough public information about genetic engineering. Mainly the issue of effects of human health as a result of consuming the food has been in discussion. Due to the assumption that the genetically modified foods are safe, many people consume foods not knowing that some of them are actually allergenic or toxic. Equally important is the fact that the biotechnology companies use transgenic in food, and therefore, a situation whereby there is a deactivation of nutritional substances may arise.

Apparently, the environment`s safety is so uncertain. This is because due to use of technology the genetically modified organism may damage the environment. Thus the question of whether there is a possible interference of the biological balance of nature arises. Also, the use of biotechnology can affect the climate in the immediate environment surrounding the crop. Characteristics such as pollution, salination, soil erosion, and limited water supply may be imminent (Frewer & Shepherd, 1995).

A lot of researchers are working around the clock to ensure that genetic engineering does not ruin the world. They are apparently using a very powerful gene editing technique CRISPR to eliminate the problem (Frewer & Shepherd, 1995). Therefore research shows that by use of CRISPR scientists may be able to design efficient crops, treat cancers, and possibly edit the human embryo in order to reverse the genetic disorders. Therefore this technology can be very useful when dealing with genetic engineering.

In this context technology is the main key to the advancement of genetic engineering.  It is because of technology that scientists and researchers have found a way of altering of the DNA and hence producing genetically modified organisms. Therefore, the research of the effects of genetic engineering may lead to a responsible use of technology.  Therefore, genetic engineering has positive and negative effects both to human and environment to the society and it cannot be stopped because of the evolving and emerging technology.  Equally important a lot of people are still not informed on the benefits of and the negative effects of the use of GMOs and they are not ready to form an opinion about genetic engineering, therefore, this issue of biotechnology in agriculture is very crucial to everyone and at no point should it be overlooked.


Altieri, M. A. (2004). Genetic engineering in agriculture: the myths, environmental risks, and        alternatives (No. 1). Food First Books.

Frewer, L. J., & Shepherd, R. (1995). Ethical concerns and risk perceptions associated with     different applications of genetic engineering: Interrelationships with the perceived need            for regulation of the technology. Agriculture and Human Values, 12(1), 48-57.

Lock, R., & Miles, C. (1993). Biotechnology and genetic engineering: students' knowledge and                        attitudes. Journal of Biological Education, 27(4), 267-272.


This is the introduction of a male`s semen to female`s vagina by a process other than coitus, commonly used for animal breeding.

[2] This term is referred to as a extra chromosomal element of genetics which usually occurs in a lot of bacterial strains.

[3] The ability of making high specific change in the sequence of DNA of a living organism by customizing the makeup of the genes.

September 04, 2023

Science Food

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