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GMO Friend or Foe? Genetically Modified Organisms Designed by Nina Murray For OSSTF Image credit: Microsoft clipart.

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Presentation on theme: "GMO Friend or Foe? Genetically Modified Organisms Designed by Nina Murray For OSSTF Image credit: Microsoft clipart."— Presentation transcript:

1 GMO Friend or Foe? Genetically Modified Organisms Designed by Nina Murray For OSSTF Image credit: Microsoft clipart

2 What are genetically modified foods? Also called genetically modified organisms (GMO), or GE foods (Genetically engineered). Created by inserting DNA from one organism into another (I.e. fish genes into apples) OR modifying an organism’s DNA to attain a desirable trait. (I.e. a tomato with reversed DNA to slow down ripening). Image credit: Microsoft clipart

3 Examples of GMO’s Flavr SavrIn 1994, the Flavr Savr tomato was introduced as the first GM food. It is supposed to be“tastier, firmer and fresher” than the average tomato. Golden riceGolden rice – enriched rice containing beta-carotene (Vitamin A). This vitamin is not found in normal rice. Bt cornBt corn – corn containing a chemical normally found in bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis). This is toxic to insects, not humans. Insects try to eat the plant and die. Herbicide resistant plants (roundup ready corn). These plants are immune to a certain herbicide, so they live while all the other plants in the field are killed. Image credit: Microsoft clipart

4 GMO foods … are common According to Greenpeace, up to 70% of processed foods in Canada contain GM ingredients. Most common are corn, soy, canola and cotton. Image credit: US Dept of Agriculture

5 What is grown globally? In 2001 the area of genetically modified crops grown globally was 52.6 million hectares. That is an area the size of France or Spain. This includes food and non-food crops (I.e.cotton) –4 countries produced 99% of the world's genetically modified crops. These are: USA (68%) Argentina (22%) Canada (6%) China (3%) More than 80% of canola grown in Canada and a high proportion of the country’s soybean and corn crops are genetically modified. Image credit: Microsoft clipart

6 From ( U.S. Dept. Agriculture 2001)


8 GM foods in Canada Novel Foods Health Canada groups GM foods into a category called “Novel Foods”. Foods resulting from a process not previously used for food; Products that have never been used as a food; or Foods that have been modified by genetic manipulation, also known as genetically modified (GM) foods, genetically engineered foods or biotechnology-derived foods 70 novel foods have been approved for sale in Canada. Potatoes Canola Corn Tomatoes Squash Soybeans Flax Sugarbeets Are all examples!! These crops are processed into the goods in grocery stores…. Fries, cakes, oils, sugars, sauces Animals that feed on GMOs… without And more… all without mandatory labeling. Image credit: Microsoft clipart

9 Benefits #1 Increased crop productivityIncreased crop productivity –This includes herbicide tolerance, –pest and disease resistance –E.g. “Roundup ready” crops, and BT corn. –Could mean using less spray Image credit: & Microsoft clipart

10 Benefits #2 Cold toleranceCold tolerance –plants developed to tolerate cold temperatures –& withstand unexpected frost could destroy seedlings Drought & salinity toleranceDrought & salinity tolerance –currently inhospitable regions can now be cultivated Image credit:

11 Benefits #3 Improved nutritionImproved nutrition –crops like rice are a staple in developing countries nutritionally inadequate! –GM "golden rice" is high in beta- carotene (vitamin A) Reduces eye-related problems like blindness due to malnutrition Image credit: & Microsoft clipart

12 Benefits #4 PhytoremediationPhytoremediation (fī'tō-rĭ-mē'dē-ā'shən) –plants like poplar trees clean up the heavy metal soil contamination –GM plants with higher tolerance for heavy metals like mercury. Image credit: Microsoft clipart

13 Benefits #5 Future benefitsFuture benefits might include: –food without allergens; (I.e. anyone could eat nuts) –grains, fruit & vegetables with improved nutrition (multi- vitamin potatoes=healthy fast food french fries!) –longer shelf life and better taste (reduced food waste due to spoilage) –rice enhanced with iron (prevent anemia) –foods used as vaccines (bye-bye needles) –Many more possibilities Image credit: Microsoft clipart

14 Challenges #1 EnvironmentalEnvironmental – possibility of unintended harm to other organisms: –potential risk of harm to non-target organisms, e.g. a pest resistant crop that produces toxins that may harm both crop-damaging and non crop-damaging insects E.g. The pollen of BT corn on milkweed is thought to affect (slow or kill) the larvae of Monarch butterflies. Further studies are underway. Image credit: & Microsoft clipart

15 Challenges #2 pesticides become less effectivepesticides become less effective as pests become resistant to modified crops. –Different varieties and strengths of pesticides will be needed once weeds have adapted to the existing effective pesticides. Image credit: Microsoft clipart

16 Challenges #3 “Superweeds”“Superweeds” –gene transfer to non-target species where herbicide tolerant plants crossbreed with weeds potentially creating herbicide resistant weeds. Some Western Canadian farmers are calling Monsanto’s round-up ready canola a superweed. Image credit: Microsoft clipart

17 Challenges #4 Human health risksHuman health risks –introducing a gene into a plant may create a new allergen or cause an allergic reaction in susceptible individuals –For example, inserting genes from a nut into another plant could be dangerous for people who are allergic to nuts Image credit: Microsoft clipart

18 Challenges #5 Economic HazardsEconomic Hazards Elimination of competition –GM seeds are patented (must buy each year) This presents problems for poor farmers in both the developed and developing worlds. –Large companies like Monsanto have resorted to suing small farmers found to be using their seed without paying. Suicide seeds –Plants with sterile seeds that are infertile are created –Farmers are forced to buy seeds every year However, some companies have reduced costs or donated GM seeds to impoverished nations. Image credit: Microsoft clipart

19 Impacts of Genetic Modification 1.4 billion farmers in developed countries depend on “saved seeds” and seed exchanges (50% of crops) 1998 Monsanto sued 100 US soybean growers and hired “Pinkerton” agents to track down “seed savers “Pineland Seed Company” was granted patent in 1998 for “terminator technology” –seeds do not germinate if planted for second time Image credit: Microsoft clipart

20 Image credit: Greenpeace Canada




24 About the previous picture ….. Greenpeace activists have created a 61-metre crop circle in a corn field in Abbotsford, British Columbia. The field contains Monsanto’s NK603 genetically engineered (GE) corn, which scientists recently linked with liver and kidney toxicity in rats. Greenpeace is calling for mandatory labelling of GE foods across Canada. Canada grows over 5.8 million hectares of GE crops, including 820,000 hectares of GE corn. That’s an area of GE crops more than twice the size of Vancouver Island. We are one of the top producers of GE worldwide along with USA, Argentina, and Brazil. Forty countries around the world already have mandatory GE labelling in place. Image credit: Greenpeace Canada

25 What we know now … What do you know about GM Foods? Take an online test by clicking on the link below and determine your GMF smarts! GM Foods Test Media clips at: Image credit: Greenpeace Canada

26 References Information: Pictures from: Greenpeace Canada (verbal permission via phone conversation June 2008) Image credit: Microsoft clipartImage credit:

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