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What are the agricultural benefits of GMOs?

What are the agricultural benefits of GMOs?

What are the agricultural benefits of GMOs? Genetically modified insects are engineered by injecting desired genes into the natural insect eggs (Beard et al., 2004). The modified genes are referred to as transgenes, inserted using short DNA sequences. The resultant insects are transgenic with a complex assortment of transgenes (Beech, Koukidou, Morrison, & Alphey, 2012). Several transgenic insects are derived through genetic engineering with various transgenes, such as marker genes, refractory genes, and lethal genes. Marker genes create fluorescent insects that scientists use to differentiate modified and unmodified species. Refractory genes prevent the insect from transmitting diseases, while lethal genes render it unproductive or kill it. Transgenic insects have various benefits, including health, environmental, and agricultural. This paper focuses on the farming benefits, which include pest control, as opposed to the use of chemical pesticides, and enhancement of agricultural productivity (Gill, 2013).

 

What are the agricultural benefits of GMOs? Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) have been effective methods used by scientists to create transgenic insects that reduce the need for pesticide use (Daily Mail, 2013). GM insects are also used as biological control agents to control pests and boost agricultural output. Using living organisms for weed and pest control eradicates the use of pesticides in crop production (GeneWatch, 2012). This has led to the safe and sustainable production of food and crops sans the use of pesticides and minimized pesticide residues in plants. Medflies are destructive insects that cause high losses in the agricultural sector (Gilbert & Gill, 2010). The application of SIT to produce sterile males has significantly reduced the impact of the insect on crops. The olive fruit fly is also a deadly insect that causes severe damage to olives in California and the Mediterranean region (Gucciardi, 2013). Scientists have genetically engineered fruit flies through the SIT to produce sterile males. The release of the infertile male into the wild results in the death of female offspring at the larval stage,  which significantly suppresses the population of the olive fruit fly (Knols & Scott, 2003). In turn, olive trees produce fruits sans the need for chemical sprays since the reproduction of the destructive fly has been suppressed. This is integrated pest management that aims at reducing the number of pests causing crop damage, as opposed to the use of pesticides (Muir, 2014).

 

Honeybees have also been engineered to enhance their resistance to pests and diseases (Pimentel, 2001). This has led to an increased population of bees, which previously succumbed to predation and diseases. Honey is an essential agricultural product with numerous health and economic benefits; thus, it is vital to safeguard the population of honeybees. Other transgenic insects include silkworms, mosquitoes, and kissing bugs modified for economic benefits and to improve public health (Richards, 2013). Silkworms have been engineered to synthesize industrial proteins and pharmaceuticals for various purposes (Walia, 2013). The proteins manufacture parachutes, bulletproof vests, and synthetic ligaments. Genetically engineered mosquitoes cannot transmit malaria, which benefits the public by reducing malaria cases. GM kissing bugs are also incapable of transmitting dengue, saving millions of people from succumbing to the disease yearly (Romeis, Shelton, & Kennedy, 2008).

Genetically modified insects have several uses, including weed and pest control agents without chemical pesticides.

Genetically modified insects have several uses, such as weed and pest control agents, without chemical pesticides. Pesticides adversely affect human health, crops, and the environment (Wentworth, 2010). They jeopardize many people’s health when they contact them, cause severe environmental damage, and kill beneficial insects such as bees. Besides pest management, transgenic insects also have other practical uses, such as disease prevention and increasing agricultural productivity. Therefore, transgenic insects are better than other pest control methods, such as vectors and pesticides (Winston & Edelbach, 2011).

 

 

References

Beard, C. B., Celeste, L., Bundy, T., Giddings, V., Jenkins, P., Matheson, J., Milewski, E., Miller, T., O’Brochta, D., & Rose, B. (2004). Bugs in the system?: Issues in the science and regulation of genetically modified insects. Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology. Retrieved on 15 March 2014 from http://www.pewtrusts.org/uploadedFiles/wwwpewtrustsorg/Reports/Food_and_Biotechnology/pifb_bugs_012204.pdf

Beech, C. J, Koukidou, M. Morrison, N. I. & Alphey, L. (2012). Genetically modified insects: Science, use, status, and regulation. International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. Retrieved on 15 March 2014 from http://www.icgeb.org/~bsafesrv/pdffiles/Col6_Beech.pdf

Daily Mail. (2013). Frankenflies to battle pests: Scientists plan to launch thousands of GM insects into fields as an alternative to using chemicals. Retrieved on 15 March 2014 from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2410484/Scientists-launch-thousands-GM-insects-fields-alternative-chemicals.html

GeneWatch. (2012). Genetically-modified insects: under whose control? Retrieved on 15 March 2014 from http://www.genewatch.org/uploads/f03c6d66a9b354535738483c1c3d49e4/Regnbrief_fin2.pdf

Gilbert, L. I. & Gill, S. S. (2010). Insect control: Biological and synthetic agents. Waltham, MA: Academic Press.

Gill, V. (2013). Decision awaited on genetically modified insect trial. BBC News. Retrieved on 15 March 2014 from http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-24958488

Gucciardi, A. (2013). Thousands of genetically modified insects are set for release. Infowars. Retrieved on 15 March 2014 from http://www.infowars.com/thousands-of-genetically-modified-insects-set-for-released/

Knowles, B. & Scott, T.W. (2003). Discussion-Ecological challenges concerning the use of genetically modified mosquitoes for disease control: synthesis and future perspectives. In Takken, W. & Scott, T.W. (Eds.), Ecological Aspects for Application of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes (pp. 235-238). New York, NY: Springer.

Muir, P. (2014). Genetic pest controls. Oregon State University. Retrieved on 15 March 2014 from http://people.oregonstate.edu/~muirp/genecont.htm

Pimentel, D. (2001). Overview of the use of genetically modified organisms and pesticides in agriculture. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies. 9(1), 51-63. Retrieved on 15 March 2014 from http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1227&context=ijgls

Richards, S. (2013). Will GM insects help stop disease? The Scientist. Retrieved on 15 March 2014 from http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/34005/title/Will-GM-Insects-Help-Stop-Disease-/

Romeis, J., Shelton, A. M., Kennedy, G. G. (2008). Integration of insect-resistant genetically modified crops within IPM programs. New York, NY: Springer

Walia, A. (2013). Thousands of genetically modified insects are set for release. Collective Evolution. Retrieved on 15 March 2014 from http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/09/10/thousands-of-genetically-modified-insects-are-set-for-release/

Wentworth, J. (2010). Genetically modified insects. Post Note. Retrieved on 15 March 2014 from http://www.inasp.info/uploads/filer_public/2013/04/03/3_handout_1.pdf

Winston, M. & Edelbach, R. (2011). Society, ethics, and technology. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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