GM vs. traditional methods of plant breeding essay sample


The controversy over the use of GM technologies and conventional methods of plant breeding is extensive. Genetic modification is a comparatively new way of altering the genetic image of plants that was developed to succeed several conventional methods of selection. It may seem uncertain because little research has been made in this area, but proponents of GM crops claim that new ways of breeding are much more efficient and productive.

Before the twentieth century, existing plant species were cross-bred to produce new species with extraordinary characteristics. The process of selection is long as scientists must figure out which of countless hybrids possess desirable features and which ones do not. Frequently, a thousand of crosses shall be created to find few useful hybrids. Later in the twentieth century, scientists used to expose seeds to chemical influence or radiation with the aim to change their genetic image. The mutation that occurred in species was not very predictable as well but at least all seeds taken for the exposure changed equally.

A main specific feature and advantage of genetic modification are the ability to cross the species barrier. While conventional methods allowed breeding only with other plant species, GM allows breeding plants with insects or bacteria. The controversy is concentrated around these foreign genes because they can possibly lead to emerging of toxic proteins.

Another key difference of GM seeds from traditionally cross-bred ones is infertility of the second generation. Due to Genetic Use Restriction Technology, a GM plant is being made sterile which means that its seeds cannot produce an identical plant. In the developed world, it is a common practice to buy seeds every year, nevertheless, farmers in the developing countries suffer from GURT.

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