04 July 2016

#162 Genetically modified organisms

Genetic engineering is improving the quality (nutrition) and yield of crop plants and livestock  --> therefore is solving the demand for food in the world

1. Golden Rice
- genetically modified rice produces large quantities of β-carotene in endosperm --> human cells convert β-carotene to Vitamin A
- Golden Rice has same yield, pest resistance and eating qualities as the original varieties
- normally:

  • deficiency of Vitamin A can lead to blindness and death (due to a weak immune system)
  • Vitamin-A is fat soluble: found in oily-fish, dairy, liver,...
  • Pro-vitamin A is present in the aleurone layer, not in the endosperm in rice

-genes for carotene production is taken from:   and inserted into rice
  • daffodils
  • common soil bacterium Pantoea ananatis

*ethical implications?
Some organisations condemn Golden Rice: It is the wrong way to solve poverty. Solving political, cultural and economic issues will help lower poverty, as people will be given a more varied diet

From question 9a past paper of Winter 2014, paper 43


2. GM Atlantic salmon
Injected into a fertilised egg of an Atlantic salmon:

  • growth-hormone regulating gene from a PAcific Chinook salmon
  • promoter from another species of fish, an ocean pout
The salmons are able to grow all year, instead of just in sping and summer. They reach market size in 18 months as opposed to 3 years of an unmodified fish.

Syllabus 2016-2018

19.3 Genetically modified organisms in agriculture 

The ability to manipulate genes has many potential benefits in agriculture, but the implications of releasing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the environment are subject to much public debate in some countries.

a) explain the significance of genetic engineering in improving the quality and yield of crop plants and livestock in solving the demand for food in the world, e.g. Bt maize, vitamin A enhanced rice (Golden riceTM) and GM salmon 

b) outline the way in which the production of crops such as maize, cotton, tobacco and oil seed rape may be increased by using varieties that are genetically modified for herbicide resistance and insect resistance 

c) discuss the ethical and social implications of using genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food production

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