Today, GMOs for medicines and vaccines, but the first

Today, in our society GMOs are used in most of crops grown in the U.S. According the the Environmental Working Group, the average American eats about 193 pounds of GMOs annually. GMOs are genetically modified organisms in which the genetic makeup of the organisms is altered using genetic engineering. Genetically modified crops are used to increase productivity, repel insects, resist herbicides, and much more. Humans have been genetically changing plants for longer than what most might think. For up to 10,000 years farmers have been choosing which qualities they like and don’t like in animals and which plants were the most productive. The first country to sell a genetically engineered crop was China in the early 1990s.        In 1972, Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen developed a way to transfer DNA from one place and apply it to other organisms. In 1982, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first GMO which was recombinant human insulin (Humulin-R). Many scientists were using GMOs for medicines and vaccines, but the first to modify plants were Monsanto scientists in 1983. In 1987, the first tests are held for genetically engineered tobacco. In 1990, the FDA approved a new strain of GMO rennet which is used to curdle milk for dairy products. By 1995, 67% of the cheese produced in the US was made by genetically modified rennet. In 1994, genetically modified tomatoes were approved by the FDA for marketing-known as Flavr Savr tomatoes. These were put in grocery stores and would not ripen as fast so they  had longer shelf time. It was the first genetically engineered crop to be commercialized. In the same year Monsanto created a bovine growth hormone, it could be injected into cattle to increase their milk production. There are nine genetically modified crops: sugar beets, soy, canola, cotton, corn, zucchini, yellow summer squash, alfalfa, papaya, and apples have just recently been approved. The USDA found that by 2008 92% of soybeans planted in the United States and 80% of the corn fields were GMOs. According to the USDA, “Nebraska and South Dakota were the two highest percentage states at 97 percent each”. Despite all of the controversy around GMOs, the positives of them outweigh the negatives. GMOs have made the lives of farmers a little easier. In 1996, Monsanto made the Roundup Ready soybean, genetically engineered to resist glyphosate. Roundup Ready cotton, maize, and various other crops were made in the years following. Now farmers can spray their crops with herbicides to control unwanted plants and it will not affect their crops. Because the crops are invulnerable to the pesticides, the risk for crop failure is much lower and the farms are more efficient. In the early 1990s, Hawaii’s papaya industry was declining heavily due to the papaya ringspot virus. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture started putting funding into research for a genetically modified papaya. They developed a transgenic papaya that would be resistant to the virus and enhance the productivity. Today, these account for 80% of the papayas grown in Hawaii (Bawa, 2013). The modified papayas saved the papaya industry for Hawaii. Potatoes were very vulnerable to insects and weeds. The NewLeaf Potato was made to repel the Colorado potato beetle in 1995 by Monsanto. It was produced by the natural bacteria found in the soil known as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). It was commercialized in the late 1990s but had to be withdrawn in 2001 due to food retailers not picking up the product. GMOs reduce the amount of food wasted. New potatoes are being engineered to resist bruising and apples that do not brown as fast. The foods have a longer shelf life and this allows for  “safe transport to people in countries without access to nutrition-rich foods” (mandel, 2015). When shipping foods to other countries or states, the fruits and vegetables will get there in good  condition and this eliminates food having to be thrown out because it is bruised or has gone bad.In 2000, scientists modified white rice to be enriched with beta-carotene. This GM rice was called Golden Rice, it was full of Vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiencies kill over 500,000 people each year and cause blindness, limit growth, and weaken the body’s immune system. This rice could reduce that number. In order to keep up with the growing population and meet the nutritional demands GE crops are needed. By 2050, it is predicted that the Earth will have a population of 9 billion. Small non-GMO farms are not going to produce enough food for the growing population. GMO crops can produce more and larger crops. They can grow where regular crops cannot.Using GMOs has many environmental benefits. According to Diaz, “less chemicals, time, machinery, and land are needed for GMO crops and animals, which can help reduce environmental pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil erosion”. According to the American Farm Bureau, the use of GMOs in 2012 helped the environment as much as taking more than 11 million cars off the road would help the environment. A report by the National Academy of Science (NAS) found “Pest-resistant crops have resulted in lower pest populations overall in some areas of the midwest”. Currently, most of the genetically engineered crops are protected against pests or resistant to herbicides, but According to the NAS report, technology in the future could be used to give the crops climate change traits such as: drought resistance or heat and cold tolerance. With temperatures rising, this trait could be very useful. GMOs boost no-tilling farming. Tilling is used as a method for weed management. Doing this removes nutrients from the soil, causes more erosion and runoff, and harms earthworms, ants and other organisms. Genetically modified crops are herbicide resistant, so they do not need as much weed removal. Farmers are able to till their crops less which is better for the land and environment. Using GMOs conserve natural habitats. Farmers make use of their already owned land and do not need to expand. With non-GMO crops farmers are not able to produce as much, so they need to expand their land. This means cutting down forests and taking away the homes of the wildlife living in that area. Because the population is rising, we would be using more and more of natural habitats for our food. GMOs help keep the cost down for farmers. With non-GMO crops, farmers would need to buy a lot more of seeds to produce large amount of food. When using the GMO crops less seeds would need to be bought to get the result wanted. Farmers also spend less money on insecticides, herbicides, and machinery. The costs could also go down for consumers. Farmers use less machinery and pesticides, so it is easier. Easier farming equals less money spent, so the end result will cost less. The cost isn’t much lower for the consumer alone, but it does make a big difference when giving food to communities as a whole.In the early 1990s a biodegradable plastic was made called Biopol. It was developed by a GM bacterium called Ralstonia eutropha. It turns glucose into a flexible polymer. Biopol was able to metabolize oil and heavy metals which could make efficient bioremediation strategies. It made the plastic industry better for the planet. GMOs play a major role in vaccines and medicine. Humulin-R was produced by genetically altering E. coli bacteria. This changed GMOs in medicine and saved people’s lives. A vaccine for Hepatitis B  was created using GMOs. It was produced in GM mammalian cells grown in laboratory culture. Currently, Edible Vaccines are in development. According to Diaz, “edible vaccine is an antigenic protein that is produced in the consumable parts of a plant (e.g., fruit) and absorbed into the bloodstream when the parts are eaten”. The vaccine would be absorbed into the body and the protein would stimulate the immune system. It could offer a safe painless way to vaccinate and could be useful to prevent diseases that are resistant to vaccines we have today such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, or tuberculosis. Some insects have been genetically modified to reduce the spread of parasitic diseases. Genetically modified mosquitoes have been developed that have a small protein called SM1, which blocks the entry of malaria. This leaves the mosquito malaria resistant. Another example is male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have been engineered with a method called sterile insect technique. A gene is transferred to the offspring which causes the offspring to die before becoming mature. In Brazil the genetically modified mosquitoes were released and the population of A. aegypti decreased by 95 percent. There has been genetic modification of humans. It is called gene therapy, it can be used as a treatment option for diseases such as metabolic disorders or cancer. Diaz states, “Coupling stem cell technology with recombinant DNA methods allows stem cells derived from a patient to be modified in the laboratory to introduce a desired gene”. We can prevent or treat diseases in someone. GMOs will continue to evolve and we will continue to learn more about them. New research and educational opportunities will arise. We will continue to find answers to stop the latest disease or how to stop a new pest from destroying our crops. More great things will continue to happen for GMOs in the future.