Genetically Engineered Plants

Essay by borgy57Junior High, 9th gradeA+, February 2004

download word file, 4 pages 4.5

Thorough history, Man has sought out to produce the best crops possible. Previously, genetic traits could only be passed between plants and animals that could be crossbred. Now, however, new techniques permit scientists to remove individual genes from one organism and transplant them into another (Dalgish). This process allows scientists to produce "super plants" with improved traits and characteristics. Genetically modified plants will revolutionize the world.

Many plant improvements have already been created in agricultural plants. Through genetic modification, the Monsanto Co., has given corn the ability to protect itself against one of its worst insect enemies, the root cutworm. The cutworm chews holes in the roots, and bores itself into the corn, creating open pores for disease and other insects to infect. Safe guarding the corn was done not by altering the plant, but engineering a gene from harmless bacteria, Pseudomonas fluorescens, which live on corn-roots, among other places.

A gene from another type of bacterium, Bacillus thuringienis (Bt), was transferred to the Pseudomonas. Bt produces a natural insect toxin against cutworms that has been sold to farmers for years to spray on the corn's leaves. When the genetically altered corn seeds are planted, the new protein manufactured by the Pseudomonas kills the root cutworm when it starts to eat the roots (Gross 65). This new type of corn increases yields very noticeably and reduces disease among fields of corn. The same process involving Bt toxins have been implemented in potatoes, cotton, canola, alfalfa, walnuts, poplar, spruce trees, and cranberries (Christopher 26).

Along with corn, soybeans have had great progress in genetic modifications. Once again, Monsanto created the genetically modified (GM) soybeans. These soybeans are immunized against a specific herbicide Monsanto manufactures, Roundup® (glysophate). These GM beans have been available to the public to purchase for a few years...