The Next Step in Genetic Modification

In the field of genetic modification, development came in stages. It may have started with more conventional breeding practices such as what was used in the past. Scientists as well as farmers have long been cross breeding plants of the same species in order to acquire the best possible mix of qualities inherent in the two varieties. A good example would be pairing a disease-resistant variety with a fast growing on in order to produce a breed that combines both qualities.

But then advancement in conventional breeding methods can only go so far. Scientists then developed ways on how to introduce new genes into another plant through genetic engineering. This way, the genes containing the good qualities of a plant are transplanted into a host plant in order to have a better plant variety. The difference now is that this method allows scientists to take the genes from one species and then insert them into the genetic makeup of a completely unrelated species.

Although genetic engineering has vastly improved the way new plant breeds are developed, it can also leave a fairly big room for error. Although it may be a faster method of developing better plants than conventional breeding methods, both can be a hit or miss process. Most scientists may not have any first hand idea on where they should be inserting the genetic material into another plant and what it will eventually result into.

The first generation of genetically modified plants usually involve only making them acquire better resistance to pests as well as some herbicides. Doing this is relatively easy given the technology today. But many biotech companies are already making plans on developing the second generation of genetically modified crops. This time, it might prove to be more difficult and more challenging to do.

The second generation of genetically modified crops that such biotech companies are planning are those crops that are being engineered to contain qualities that consumers are looking for. The next in line would be genetically engineered plants that contain extra vitamins and minerals. The next plants would be fortified with folate, calcium and other nutrients to make them healthier. Some plants may even be genetically modified in order to become hypoallergenic to allow consumption by people who are previously allergic to such crops.

Although the future for the second generation of genetically modified crops may be bright, there seems to be some roadblocks ahead. There are some issues that may arise whether the public will readily accept them. There have been instances that a number of genetically modified crops have been looked upon negatively by the general public. Concerns of safety are always a primary concern and with a technology that may still be using a hit or miss process, this might not prove to be looking good at all.

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