04.08.bill+hallman.GM+Foods+Primer+2011

04.08.bill+hallman.GM+Foods+Primer+2011 - GM Food: A Primer...

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Unformatted text preview: GM Food: A Primer William K. Hallman, PhD Director Food Policy Institute Rutgers University Since the beginning of agriculture, some 28,000 years ago, humans have sought to improve plant and animal species. Long before we began to understand evolution and JHQHWLFV ZHYH EHHQ LPSURYLQJ SODQW VSHFLHV WKURXJK D variety of techniques. Since the beginning of agriculture, some 28,000 years ago, humans have sought to improve plant and animal species. Long before we began to understand evolution and JHQHWLFV ZHYH EHHQ LPSURYLQJ SODQW VSHFLHV WKURXJK D variety of techniques. Selective breeding Throughout history, farmers have improved crops by preserving the seeds of their biggest and best fruits and vegetables to plant in the next crop season. When disease and blight struck, farmers preserved only the seeds from those plants that resisted the disease (as pictured above). Selective breeding &RUQ SODQW LQ V Corn plant today Fruits and vegetables became bigger and stronger because only the plants with the best traits were planted in each succeeding crop season. Evolution is accelerated through this selection process, as beneficial mutations (like corn plants that are larger or heartier) were exploited. In this sense, we have been altering the genetic makeup of plant VSHFLHV VLQFH WKH EHJLQQLQJ RI DJULFXOWXUH HYHQ LI ZH GLGQW know it at the time). Cross breeding is another method used to change the genetic makeup of plants and animals. In the case of plants (such as the tangelo picture here), the pollen from one plant is used to fertilize another. In the case of animals, two compatible creatures mate to produce hybrid offspring. Cross breeding has been going on for hundreds of years. Carrot Celery Hybrid Cross breeding is not always successful. An attempt to create a new vegetable that has the useful parts of carrots and celery (the carrot root and the celery stalk) can result in a hybrid with carrot stalks and celery roots, a crop that would be commercially useless. The process of cross-breeding is not a precise science. Literally thousands of genes can be transferred in this process, and there is no way to control which genes are transferred to the hybrid. Creating a desirable hybrid can involve decades of trial and error. Genetic Modification Farmers and agricultural scientists wanted a way to improve and perfect agricultural products in a faster, more accurate way. Genetic modification, also known as DNA recombination, allows scientists to select specific genetic traits from one plant or animal and insert them into the genetic code of another plant or animal. The process permits the transfer of genetic material between species that is not possible using conventional methods. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a naturally occurring soil bacterium that produces proteins that are toxic to insect larva....
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04.08.bill+hallman.GM+Foods+Primer+2011 - GM Food: A Primer...

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