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Assessing risks arising from contamination of the aquatic environment with Bt toxin from GM corn (maize) crop litter in the USA - Essay Example

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INTRODUCTION Anyone familiar with modern agriculture in the context of crop science is most likely aware of, and acquainted with BT products. Specifically Bacillus Thuringiensis toxin products affecting insects, primarily larva as an internalized pesticide…
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Assessing risks arising from contamination of the aquatic environment with Bt toxin from GM corn (maize) crop litter in the USA
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Download file to see previous pages (National Agriculture Statistics Service, 2009) Hypothesis: To find out the impact of BT toxins on the aquatic environment if used without extensive risk assessment. What is the first impression you get when you hear the term, “Genetically Modified Food”? In recent years, speculation has renewed over the full effects, and possible consequences of genetic modification of organisms for the production, and augmentation of human food supplies. It is worthwhile to identify the specificities of the techniques involved to produce BT crops, as well as other biotech innovations. To understand potential environmental and biological risk factors involved we must delve into precisely what does and does not occur with genetically modified crops. This study will explore techniques involved in producing genetically modified foods, their importance to agriculture, and the nature of the BT molecule/toxin. In addition, two other research projects will be summarized which explore possible side effects of BT toxin dispersing into the environment, as well as the frequency of that dispersal in the water table. BT technology must be a subject of discussion, both due to the popularity of this technique, by which pesticides can be incorporated directly into plant tissues constitutively – and the possible far-reaching ramifications of such an inclusion. Both of these studies focus on corn/maize due to its prevalence – but virtually any vegetable that has utility for humans is a possible target for genetic modification, in the interest of greater profit towards an increase in the human food supply. GENETIC MODIFICATION Genetically modified organism(GMO): An organism is "genetically modified", if it’s genetic material has been changed in a way that does not occur under natural conditions through cross-breeding or natural recombination. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a spore forming bacterium that produces crystals protein (cry proteins), which are toxic to many species of insects. (University of California San Diego) GM crops are made using technology which allows Bt toxins to be introduced into crops, making them resistant to pests. For centuries, human beings have attempted to incorporate desired traits both in animals and plants of human utility. Selective breeding has been employed to both as a means of eliminating undesirable traits, such as excessive ferocity in certain breeds of dogs, and greater sugar content as well as size increases for fruits and vegetables. Using ancient techniques agriculture was limited to working within a single species in order to identify desirable, and undesirable traits - and then through successive generations to concentrate those virtues within the species that proved of highest economic benefit to humanity. Or as the case may be, to winnow out those traits that ran counter to human interests. Genetic modification broadens the set of tools available to agriculture, agribusiness, and eventually to animal husbandry. What if we were not limited by the genes within a single species? What if it were possible to use genes from virtually any species and incorporate them into crops? Perhaps the particular globular proteins present in a deep-sea fish which ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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