Genetic Engineering : Genetically Modified Plants Essay

998 Words Oct 14th, 2015 4 Pages
Agricultural crops whose genetic material (DNA) has been altered using genetic engineering techniques are said to be genetically modified (GM) crops. Currently, there are two main types of modifications: Transgenic plants (Inserted DNA is taken from another species) and Cisgenic plants (Inserted DNA is derived from the same/closely related species). Modification of plant genetic material has taken place since humans first domesticated plants: around 10,500 BC (Zohary, Hopf & Weiss 2012). However, until scientific advances allowed for laboratory based modification, GM was performed using methods such as selective breeding in order to increase the frequency of beneficial traits.
The first occurrence of laboratory based GM, whereby DNA was directly transferred from one organism to another came in 1973, when Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen inserted recombinant DNA into a bacterial cell. This breakthrough led to the creation of the first genetically engineered plant in 1983. Collaboratively, Michael Bevan, Richard B. Flavell and Mary-Dell Chilton modified a tobacco plant by inserting Agrobacterium whose plasmid has been altered to contain an antibiotic resistant gene, this in turn allowed the antibiotic resistance trait to be expressed by the plant itself (Bevan, Flavell & Chilton 1983).
These breakthroughs however didn’t come without controversy. The public perception of genetically modified organisms has been negative from the technology’s earliest days. This could…

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