Chapter 1: Mendel’s little secret.
Gregor Mendel, a Moravian monk, carefully bred peas in separate breeding lines, crossing and backcrossing to watch how traits appeared in future generations. He found out that traits were transmitted to future generations from parent plants. Mendel also found out that there were certain plants such as the hawkweed that did not need any kind of sex to reproduce. Simply put, the plant was asexual hence self-reproducing.
Mendel is considered as the founding father of genetics and despite his death, more than one century later, scientists are still struggling to investigate this botanical mystery that is Apoximis. All this information could have been found in his works, but all his material was burned by people suspected to be his rivals. However, huge steps have been made since then to determine how apoximis can be decoded and applied in plant reproduction of the essential crops that human need for survival.
Chapter 2: Seeds of Gold.
Apart from the success of the gold rice experiment, other ideas like making built-in pest-resistant corn seeds to cut down on costs spent on pesticides is one of the ideas that were considered of significance in the field of crop science. However, there was resistance as well as opposition by some people who were against genetic engineering. However, this did not limit the spread and ever increasing fame and support for the golden rice as both the government as well as the media saw to it that the golden rice achieved instant and ever-increasing fame. It was considered a heroic act since it had provided nutritional solutions to the third world underdeveloped nations of Africa as well as Asia whose people were dying of hunger and malnutrition.
Chapter 3: The plague of sameness
Some of the new genetically modified foods were similar to the old ones. Thus, some people, especially anti-GMO activists, argued that they did not see the need for genetically modified foods.
Chapter 4: A new sort of tomato
Scientists were able to come up with a genetically modified tomato variety. However, it differed from the naturally occurring tomato. The writer notes, “Although it looks like a tomato, it's kind of a notional tomato, an idea of a tomato."
Chapter 5: The battle of Basmati
A Texas company crossbred Basmati rice that is predominantly grown in Punjab region of India and Pakistan with a Green Revolution dwarf variety and patented it (only in the US). This led to allegations of “biopiracy”.
Chapter 6: Of cauliflower, potatoes, and snowdrops
The cauliflower mosaic virus has uncommon genetic qualities as it works well as a promoter. Monsanto made an application for acquisition of a patent to any gene cassette containing the virus genome.
Chapter 7: Anatomy of a poisoned butterfly
In 1999, a study suggested that Bt com might harm monarch butterfly caterpillars. Other scientists dismissed this and called for better studies.
Chapter 8: The plant hunters
Nikolai Vavilov was a famous plant hunter. He is remembered for scouring vast nooks and crannies of the world collecting seeds from germplasm, for science.
Chapter 9: The cornfields of Oaxala
In 2001, it was found out that the treasured Mexico Oriollo corn variety was tainted with alien genes from transgenic varieties from the United States of America.
Chapter 10: So shall we reap.
In this chapter, the writer concludes that genetically modified foods have their advantages. These include increased yields and provision of nutrients. However, there should be regulation so as to ensure that the genetically modified foods produced do not harm the consumers.
Support/ Agreement Comments
Biotech has considerable perils, if done too fast or without proper regulation, but I can also see that it has substantial promise to relieve pain and hunger for millions of people, if governments, industries and overzealous people don't stand in the way.
The benefits of genetically modified organisms are numerous. For instance, genetically modified plants can be able to register more yields than naturally occurring plants. This increases the supply of food available hence cases of famine can be reduced. It also leads to increased returns for the farmers due to the sale of higher yields.
Genetically modified organisms can also be disease resistant. Thus, farmers do not suffer losses due to loss of crops or livestock. This leads to higher yields, hence increases income.
Some genetically modified crops are able to withstand drought as they require little water to survive. Therefore, farmers do not suffer losses due to the occurrence of low amounts of rainfall that would have otherwise led to withering and eventual death of the crops, leading to huge losses.
Other genetically modified organisms such as golden rice contain nutrients that are not available in the naturally occurring strains. Some GMO products such as tomatoes are able to stay for a long time without going bad. Thus, this gives the sellers enough time to be able to sell the produce without incurring any losses due to some of the produce going bad. However, there have been claims that genetically modified foods can be harmful to human beings and the environment. For instance, they can pose health risks such as infertility and allergies.
In conclusion, GMO products deserve regard from those who discover them, call for more attention from those who regulate, and grow them and keen study by those of us who eat them.
Lambrecht, Bill. Dinner at the New Gene Café: How Genetic Engineering Is Changing What We Eat, How We Live, and the Global Politics of Food. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2002. Print.
Pollan, Michael. The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World. New York: Random House Publishing Group, 2001. Print.
Pringle, Peter. Food, Inc.: Mendel to Monsanto--The Promises and Perils of the Biotech Harvest. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005. Print.