Tag Archives: genetically modified organisms

Extra Credit #3- Center for Food Integrity ‘Gene Editing’ – Reflection

On October 9th, after a class discussing precision agriculture technology and data management, we were asked to do a reading from November 2018 on the Center for Food Integrity‘s ‘Gene Editing, Engage in the Conversation’ about speaking to opponents of gene-editing – namely the pre-2013 Mark LYNAS” of the world, anti-GMO supporter.

In the article, it is explained that gene-editing is the key to producing, ‘healthier, more affordable, and abundant food with less land and water-use’ and that consumers are, ‘inherently curious’ about the source of their food and how it’s produced.  It is the job of ‘Ag-vocates’ to explain biotech to those who are curious or misinformed.  It is helpful to provide tangible examples, and real-world visuals and anecdotes to aid in communication.

First, it is helpful to explain what gene-editing is, which is ,’the precise, intentional, and beneficial change of the genetic material of plants and animals used in food production for additional health, nutrition, and environmental benefits.’ Many consumers don’t believe plants even have DNA or contain genes.

When presenting knowledge about the gene-editing technique CRISPr to those consumers, finding experts whose knowledge is easily digestible is key.

Secondly, explain how gene-editing is beneficial to human health, i.e., use common ailments like cancers (leukemia, sickle cell, lung cancer) to frame gene-editing in a positive light.

Third, talk about how gene-editing has evolved with time. The process of cross-breeding plants with trial-and-error is a lengthy procedure that can take decades, while targeted editing is much quicker.

Fourth, find benefits that align with public desires.  Honing in on what consumers want, be it improved animal welfare or protecting the environment can be the key to swaying dissenters to the side of biotech.

Two analogies used to explain gene-editing are, ‘The Blueprint’ and, ‘the Encyclopedia’ to explain how making small aesthetic changes to a house does not make it structurally unsound or uninhabitable and can make it increasingly easy to find where the right resources are located, respectively.

Ultimately values, and not facts, are typically what sway both hearts and minds.

Finally, the article ends with a helpful glossary of terms and online resources, as well as the relatively recently established in 2016, ‘Coalition for Responsible Gene Editing in Agriculture‘. The Coalition is a collection of various entities from different fields who have shared values about gene-editing.


CRISPR/Cas9 System and Gene Editing

To begin this discussion let me first explain what CRISPR stands for and how it works. CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. CRISPR is a type of DNA sequences found with bacteria and archaea and plays a key role in the antiviral defense systems of the organism it is in. The reason it protects the organism from viruses is because the CRISPR DNA is made up of similar DNA to that of viruses that have infected the organism. The CRISPR DNA recognizes when a virus with similar DNA is near and Destroys it. Essential this is a way to edit genes within an organism. One trait of CRISPR that makes it extremely effective is that it has blank segments of DNA that are used to copy the DNA of new viruses that the organism may come across in the future.

Currently there are three commonly used alternatives to gene editing beside CRISPR/Cas9. They include Zinc Finger Nucleases (ZFN), Transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALEN), and Engineered meganucleases derived from mobile genetic elements of microbial origin. The main reason why these types of gene editing are as popular today is because these types of gene editing are very slow and not as effective when compared to the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system. In the agricultural business CRISPR can be used to increase the yield of important crops by essentially copy the same DNA. This could have extremely positive outcomes if properly executed.

Mark Lynas video

what is GMO? this doubt must exist in many people’s head. I had it in my mind too before I watch this video. People are really careful about what they are eating nowadays. If you they are not sure about the certain part, like GMO food, they will keep their old pattern instead of trying new food material. Mark Lynas did not believe the GMO before he did research about it. He spends a lot of time to prove one of the biggest concern in the world. so he makes people believe how good GMO food is and he did contribute a lot to the agriculture. We need people like him to stand out to tell the public what is right or wrong. what is GMO? GMO is the genetically modified organism. Since the earth is changing due to the human activities, new plants are designed by humans to adapt the new environment, which helps us to solve food insecure problem.

How much do you know about GMOs?

“We need to produce more food not just to keep up with population but because poverty is gradually being eradicated, along with the widespread malnutrition, that still today means close to 800 million people go to bed hungry each night.” Mark Lynas’ talk was packed full of facts and knowledge about Genetically Modified Organisms are beneficial to us. Out of all the things he said, this statement resonated with me the most. The issue of world hunger has always been the reason I’m for the use of Genetically Modified Organisms in production. It amazed me that so many countries like Africa and India, who are overpopulated, had a different opinion. Why wouldn’t you want to use a technique that could bring us closer to solving world hunger? I don’t think it’s because they don’t care about those in food deserts. The lack of education is the real problem.

Mark Lynas is the perfect example. After doing a lot of research into GMOs he changed his viewpoint from defaming GMOs to being a gigantic proponent for them and the positive changes they can bring to our world. If we could find ways to bring that education to those countries and even to those in our country, I think we would find a lot of people changing their views. After watching this video, I asked my roommate what her opinion was on GMOs, she said “I don’t know that much about them but aren’t they bad? Doesn’t that mean they’re putting chemicals on our food?” This just shows the impact our media and society has on the uneducated. She knows nothing about Genetically Modified Organisms but because of the labeling she sees on groceries or commercials she sees on TV she just assumed they were bad. I wish everyone was required to watch Mark Lynas’ speech, even if they don’t agree with him by the end at least they have had a chance to see both sides and form their own opinion. Lynas’ speech was passionate and intrigued my interest in being a part of educating others in hopes that one day we can lower the number of those going to bed hungry each night.