Size: px
Start display at page:




2 Genetically modified? There has been enormous controversy around the world about human intervention in producing new varieties of organisms through the modification of the genetic material primarily using laboratory technology and the introduction of material from non-sexually compatible organisms. In North America (primarily the US and Canada) GM varieties have been introduced into the food chain with little opposition, opposition has been fierce in Europe and Africa




6 Modified Organisms Teosinte maize

7 Modified Organisms wheat


9 What is a genetically modified organism? Currently, there is a social and political controversy about the safety of foods produced from genetically modified (GM) crops. However, in the scientific community, there is no dispute or controversy regarding the safety of these crops. To date, more than 3,000 scientific studies have assessed the safety of these crops in terms of human health and environmental impact. These studies together with several reviews performed on a case-by-case from regulatory agencies around the world have enabled a solid and clear scientific consensus: GM crops have no more risk than those that have been developed by conventional breeding techniques. GMO 20-year safety endorsement: 280 science institutions, more than 3,000 studies Daniel Norero June 19, 2017 Genetic Literacy Project

10 What is a genetically modified organism? LMOs are defined in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety: Living modified organism means any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology; Living organism means any biological entity capable of transferring or replicating genetic material, including sterile organisms, viruses and viroids; Modern biotechnology means the application of: a. In vitro nucleic acid techniques, including recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and direct injection of nucleic acid into cells or organelles, or b. Fusion of cells beyond the taxonomic family, that overcome natural physiological reproductive or recombination barriers and that are not techniques used in traditional breeding and selection;

11 What is a genetically modified organism? (EU Directive 2001/18) "genetically modified organism (GMO)" means an organism, with the exception of human beings, in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination; (a) genetic modification occurs at least through the use of the techniques listed in Annex I A, part 1; (b) the techniques listed in Annex I A, part 2, are not considered to result in genetic modification;

12 What is a genetically modified organism? (EU Directive 2001/18) ANNEX I A TECHNIQUES REFERRED TO IN ARTICLE 2(2) PART 1 Techniques of genetic modification referred to in Article 2(2)(a) are inter alia: (1) recombinant nucleic acid techniques involving the formation of new combinations of genetic material by the insertion of nucleic acid molecules produced by whatever means outside an organism, into any virus, bacterial plasmid or other vector system and their incorporation into a host organism in which they do not naturally occur but in which they are capable of continued propagation; (2) techniques involving the direct introduction into an organism of heritable material prepared outside the organism including micro-injection, macro-injection and microencapsulation; (3) cell fusion (including protoplast fusion) or hybridisation techniques where live cells with new combinations of heritable genetic material are formed through the fusion of two or more cells by means of methods that do not occur naturally.

13 What is a genetically modified organism? (EU Directive 2001/18) ANNEX I A TECHNIQUES REFERRED TO IN ARTICLE 2(2) PART 2 Techniques referred to in Article 2(2)(b) which are not considered to result in genetic modification, on condition that they do not involve the use of recombinant nucleic acid molecules or genetically modified organisms made by techniques/methods other than those excluded by Annex I B: (1) in vitro fertilisation, (2) natural processes such as: conjugation, transduction, transformation, (3) polyploidy induction.

14 Agrobacterium tumifaciens

15 Agrobacterium tumifaciens mediated transformation (a) isolation of the genes of interest from the source organism; (b) development of a functional transgenic construct including the gene of interest; promoters to drive expression; codon modification, if needed to increase successful protein production; and marker genes to facilitate tracking of the introduced genes in the host plant; (c) insertion of the transgene into the Ti-plasmid; (d) introduction of the T-DNA-containing-plasmid into Agrobacterium; (e) mixture of the transformed Agrobacterium with plant cells to allow transfer of T-DNA into plant chromosome; (f) regeneration of the transformed cells into genetically modified (GM) plants; (g) testing for trait performance or transgene expression at lab, greenhouse and field level (h) Choosing the least damaged variant and (back-)crossing into normal varieties so as to produce an effective new variety containing the required trait in a healthy plant








23 GM technology has had a significant positive impact on farm income derived from a combination of enhanced productivity and efficiency gains. In 2015, the direct global farm income benefit from GM crops was $15.4 billion. This is equivalent to having added 5.2% to the value of global production of the four main crops of soybeans, maize, canola and cotton. Since 1996, farm incomes have increased by $167.8 billion Based on the yield impacts used in the direct farm income benefit calculations and taking account of the second soybean crop facilitation in South America, GM crops have added important volumes to global production of corn, cotton, canola and soybeans since 1996 GM traits have contributed to a significant reduction in the environmental impact associated with insecticide and herbicide use on the areas devoted to GM crops. Since 1996, the use of pesticides on the GM crop area was reduced by million kg of active ingredient (8.1% reduction), and the environmental impact associated with herbicide and insecticide use on these crops, as measured by the EIQ indicator, fell by18.6%. The volume of herbicides used in GM maize crops also decreased by million kg ( ), an 8.4% reduction, whilst the overall environmental impact associated with herbicide use on these crops decreased by a significantly larger 12.7%. This highlights the switch in herbicides used with most GM herbicide tolerant (HT) crops to active ingredients with a more environmentally benign profile than the ones generally used on conventional crops.

24 There are so many questions? 1. Why is there such strong opposition to GM crops outside the Americas? 2. Does the opposition in Europe impact on acceptance elsewhere? 3. Why so few crops? primarily soybean, maize, cotton and canola 4. Why so few traits? primarily herbicide tolerance (almost all, glyphosate) and insect resistance (mostly bacillus thuringensis toxins) 5. New techniques such as crispr/cas 9 are much more precise do they necessarily constitute GM technology?

25 CRISPR cas9 CRISPR clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats The first CRISPR gene-edited crops are coming. A new waxy corn variety from DuPont Pioneer will hit the market in about three years. And given the speed, ease, and wide use of CRISPR gene editing, many other crops are sure to follow. Compared with traditional breeding and older genetic engineering techniques, CRISPR is much more precise: A gene-edited plant with a target trait can be produced in one generation.