Genetically Modified Foods
Plant breeding has been a partner of the farmer for centuries. However lately the development of recombinant DNA techniques has allowed desired genes to be inserted into the plant genomes resulting in plants that are extremely different than their parent. Cloning, DNA sequencing of genes, and the reassembly of DNA fragments into chimeric genes that can alter an organism's trait or characteristic have moved from science fiction to the laboratory to everyday life. Advances in molecular biology has allowed genetic mapping and assays for the plant line development using selected combinations of traits.
Genetically modified foods (GMO), also called genetically engineered or transgenic crops are generally made of a genetic marker, for example, herbicide or antibiotic resistance, and a well-characterized gene expressing a trait that is valuable to the industry or economy. Snow described the gene coding region commonly fused to the 35S promoter from cauliflower mosaic virus to promote higher expression levels and growth of desired new genetic materials. The DNA used can come from any source. It is direct and can develop new gene constructs. However, risks are high, including development of new viruses and viral resistances, and the development of new proteins and enzymes harmful to humans.
Research into GMO and its use has moved forward steadily. The prime danger has been its use without extensive testing, and the free development of products without strict government regulations. The promise of GMO is tempered with the hazards to the unsuspecting public.