An year ago, like a typical school kid I used to go march shouting ‘Go Green’ around and today I amuse from where on Earth do the responsible citizen wakes up every year on this day. A day dedicated to our Mother Earth, but a day against people like us (Geneticists). I just thought it would be right to address you folks on GMO’s today.

Genetically modified organisms or crops (GMO’s) more commonly referred to the common folks as Monster Foods or Frankenstein foods often find its place in the news almost every week, people protesting against it and environmentalists leading the march forward. Being a Genetic Engineering student, I feel it is my duty to put forward some of the truths, myths and playdog.

The one and only approved GM crop
The one and only approved GM crop

I could sense how people have been misled by the concept of ‘foreign genes’, a process nature has been doing for millions of years till now. Farmers have cross-bred crops and animals among the same species to improve and enhance its characteristics, and we call them ‘Natural’- the irony being cross-breeding is clearly man-made for his convenience. Similarly, today we have technology that allows us to combines genes from different species and we call them ‘Alien’.

The best example being Bt-cotton in India. Bt-gene from a bacteria is capable of being resistant to pests, and transfer of the same gene into cotton plant which is often a victim to pests and thus the use of pesticides is reduced.

GMO’s are always welcomed with a fear and not to blame the people but their lack of understanding and acceptance of things like ‘Gene flow’ or ‘horizontal gene transfer’. Today the discovery has changed the way environmentalists viewed GMO’s as. Gene flow is a process by which hundreds of foreign genes have jumped in to various organisms including Humans naturally. Initially it was believed that gene flow occurred only in simple prokaryotes but today the better understanding has led to the discovery of gene transfer even to complex organisms including homo sapiens. So does this make Human a monster organism? To be frank, it is an YES if you consider GMO’s the same.

cato-rices-1024x685
One of the most famous GMO – Golden rice

Two scientists from Cambridge University, Alistair Crisp and Chiara Boschetti had identified 145 genes that we Humans have today which were as a result of gene flow from various organisms. In their study on nine other primates, showed that worms had 173 transfers, fruit flies had 40 and many more. In fact, the gene responsible for our blood groups ABO was transferred from bacteria. It is termed as ‘horizontal gene transfer’ where the organisms had a common ancestor with the gene. All these things have changed one of the popular environmentalist and activist Mark Lynas who once marched against GMO but today speaks of his wrong move.

If people are still not convinced, US has passed several bills on GMO crops and today they have a trillion meals that are made from GM crops with no health hazards to kids and adults. Europeans fight so much on GM food crops and ban them in their nation but every year millions of them tour US and eat the trillion food that are GM made. Last week, Bangladesh Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury approved GM Bt-brinjal crop to be cultivated against the protests by environmentalists. So is it time for India? But first the people should be made aware. When a nation like India can provide so many advertising on national rural population and right to vote, why not spread the knowledge about GM crops?

An irony – Finally the Nestle was banned from selling its famous product ‘Maggie Noodles’ in India as a result of lead poisoning. Don’t we people knew it before that it was hazardous? Yet, we consumed it and it was regarded the ‘National snack of India.’ Only when all the newspaper headlines goes about ‘Maggie Banned’ we actually became aware. It is hilarious. Similarly, the case with GMO is people want someone to explain them about.  You call GM crops alien, then you are the most Genetically modified organism with 145 ‘foreign gene’ transfers.

#Dont fear the Science

http://www.geneticengg.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Indian-Farmer-1024x618.jpghttp://www.geneticengg.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Indian-Farmer-150x150.jpgSudharsan VaratharajanAgricultureGenome engineeringGMObt cotton,GMO,golden rice,humanAn year ago, like a typical school kid I used to go march shouting ‘Go Green’ around and today I amuse from where on Earth do the responsible citizen wakes up every year on this day. A day dedicated to our Mother Earth, but a day against people like...When Nature and Science meet, Magic happens !