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Gabrielle S.

Wilwayco 2013-15110 Looking into GMOs Roots

Eng 10 WFX2 Concept Paper

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are organisms whose genetic makeup has been manipulated to contain a specific gene and therefore possess a particular quality or characteristic it did not have prior to genetic modification. They have come a long way since genetic engineerings humble beginnings and so have developed into what they are now and are expected to continue that development in the future. This basically means that GMOs are now more complex and improved versions of their original selves. I daresay that we could even compare this technology in terms of smartphone technology, which I think is more familiar to readers who hail from an urban community and even the unaware youth. Relating the two, what a software update is for a smartphone is what GMO technology is for plants. Just as a software update turns fresh and innovative ideas into reality aiming to deliver a better experience for the user compared to the previous update, GMO technology only adds and enhances the plants overall quality providing a superior organism that possesses more developed and efficiently-functioning features than its original state. Using these GMOs is undeniably more convenient to the farmer, in stark contrast to using natural methods which take longer and are more tedious, along with the decreased likelihood of crops going to waste due to these plants not surviving varying weather conditions. Natural methods also entail the use of pesticides and herbicides in farming which result in higher overhead costs and therefore higher market prices. It is a situation where no one wins, where both producer and consumer lose. People have made claims that going against and messing with the natural order of things will end in disastrous consequences. To them I ask: if an opportunity for vast improvement presented itself to you, would you not jump at the first chance to grab that opportunity? Genetic engineering does not destroy its host organisms; on the contrary, it improves them. It develops its already existing characteristics and increases its value

by adding useful genes. This golden opportunity for natures improvement, through the use of GMOs, should not be passed up on and allowed to slip away. Organisms created after undergoing the process of genetic engineering are right there for the taking, to be used for the benefit of everyone involved. Although there may be numerous benefits, they still have to be worked hard for in order to achieve them and witness their full potentials be reached. Using GMO technology is like climbing a mountain in the Himalayas. The journey to the summit consists of a variety of slippery slopes, high cliffs and deep ravines where at any moment you could slip and fall without warning. Professional mountaineers are careful during the perilous hike to the top because one wrong step could trigger an avalanche down the mountainside, while at the same time, they explore the possibilities of opening new trails that would shorten the travel time or make the trek a little bit easier. While in the field of biotechnology, scientists and researchers exercise utmost caution when traversing the mountain which in this case is the technology behind genetic engineering. In the same way a misstep could trigger an avalanche, one mistake in handling GMOs could set off an avalanche of its own, burying all progress made so far under deep layers of peoples distrust and doubt with regard to using GMOs. Another way a mountain climb and this technology are parallel is that it is highly improbable for you to reach the top of the highest mountain on your first try without having tried to conquer lower mountain peaks. In the same way, the effects of using GMOs will never be discovered if we do not try it out, albeit on a small scale at first. As the technology is still in its infancy, we cannot expect to learn all the possible benefits we can get out of GMOs right away. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain from further study concerning genetic modification. It may need more time to prepare for that expedition to the higher peak, but for now, GMO technology can focus on conquering those lower peaks by ironing out the existing concerns raised by nonprofit sectors having green advocacies, such as GMOs posing health and environment risks in the long run. Perfecting GMOs cannot be completed in a short timeframe. Therefore this technology needs sufficient time to be thought about and examined. It is then fitting to note that one way of classifying mountains can be done through the two-tier system that

takes into account the amount of time needed to hike a certain elevation. The mountain is categorized into one of two types and is labeled either a minor or a major climb. Minor climbs can be completed in a single day while major climbs need more than one day and thus requires overnight stays. It is safe to say that using GMOs is like a major climb that definitely cannot be completed in a single day or in a slightly longer than a day but still short timeframe. Again, ample time is needed to thoroughly analyze all possible aspects of improvement. Time is also of the essence when it comes to preparation. One cannot just wake up, decide there and then and say, Hey, Im going to climb a mountain today without any prior arrangements. I mean you could, but Im willing to bet that you arent going to get very far up that mountain. Proper training and immense preparation are needed which is why professional mountaineers are considered highly skilled people. Scientists also go through many years of education and courses of specialization that make them competent in genetic engineering. This competence in their chosen field enables them to come up with valuable and effective GMOs. Similarly, there is another aspect aside from preparedness that is important to the mountaineers, scientists, and even the general population. It is the attitude of having a positive outlook towards everything. Whether that everything entail s conquering a mountain covered in deep layers of snow, creating a new GMO in the laboratory, or even just having faith and believing that these GMOs will work. The key is optimism. Optimism toward the use of GMOs will go a long way because more effort will be put into advancing the science behind it and less effort would go into opposing it for no good reasons. As with any journey, obstacles along the way will be inevitably block the way to the end goal. But in both mountaineering and genetic engineering, you just have deal with these problems using resourcefulness, creativity and persistence. Giving up will never be, and is never, an option. A mountaineer doesnt climb halfway up the mountain then suddenly decide that hes too tired to reach the peak when his legs start to shake a little. A scientist doesnt start exploring the possibilities of GMOs then decide to stop further studies when people begin to oppose him and his research. They just dont. These people strive to finish what they started because they know in their hearts that

the end result is worth working toward. And when light shines from the end of the proverbial tunnel, when he finally reaches the summit, seeing the world from the top makes the journey worth it. The only main difference I see in this part of the analogy is that I think mountain climbing is done for more of a personal satisfaction and sense of fulfillment whereas the community of genetic engineers achievement in the end will have an impact the whole world, the world which the mountaineer saw from the top of the mountain. As mentioned earlier, some nonprofit organizations have raised concerns with the use of GMOs, which is perfectly acceptable. It is normal for a concerned group of people to be inquisitive and ask questions about technology, or anything for that matter that, they dont quite fully grasp the idea of yet. It is of no surprise because curiosity is inherent in mans very nature. These people do not accept GMOs without first scrutinizing the answers they were presented with. But sadly, the same cannot be said for those who dismiss GMOs as nothing but hazards to human health and natural environment. To say that there is nothing to gain from producing organisms through genetic engineering is wrong. GMOs have not yet been found to cause disease in humans. GMOs have not yet been proven to cause imbalance in the ecosystem. And until concrete evidence is presented that proves causality and directly relates GMOs to negative effects on the human health or environment, GMO technology will continue to be a boon to society, not a bane. Meanwhile in society, GMOs function as a solution to help alleviate some effects of agriculture, economic and even health problems. Transgenic plants, another name for GMOs, are less susceptible to pests and severe weather conditions and so increase yield during harvest season. Increase in yield also ensures a steadier and more stable economy. On the topic of health, additional vitamins and minerals increase nutritional value of GMO crops. This increased nutritional value is news welcomed by many people suffering malnutrition especially those living in less developed countries. For families who cannot afford to eat three meals a day, let alone nutritious and filling meals, the extra nutrients placed in GMOs can help satisfy their dietary needs essential for growth and development. One such family is the family of Mang Todoy, my familys long time

employee, who has a wife, ten children, excluding children-in-law, and two grandchildren living under a single roof. Food has always been a problem in his household due to the sheer number of mouths he is tasked to feed. On most days, his wife is able to prepare a viand for the family, but even then, one cannot take more than his portioned share. But on bad days, the family has to make do with watered down instant noodles with heaping plates of rice to make up for the lack of protein. In Mang Todoys household, quantity is given priority over quality. Our family helps him as much as we can but we can only do so much because we do not want them to slack off and be dependent on our assistance. Unfortunately, this reality is not only limited to his family but shared among many other Filipino families who are in the same, if not worse, situation. However, GM crops make the hunger problem a little bit easier to deal with. First, these GM crops are more affordable. And the more affordable a product is the more of it can be bought. Second, GM crops are also bigger in size compared to organic crops. Bigger portions mean more food to go around the table for everyone. Not to mention that these genetically altered food has added nutritional benefits which would aid in reducing cases of malnutrition. Genetically modified organisms and the technology surrounding it can be defined in many ways but ultimately, the GMOs progress from idea to inception to where it is now shows that the scientific community has much to offer to the world in terms of discoveries and innovations. At the end of the day, whether people agree or disagree with how I have defined these organisms, I believe that GMOs have been in the past, are in the present, and will continue to be in the future, a remarkable example when it comes to technological breakthroughs.