ARTICLE

Why GMOs are the future

By Himpunan Mahasiswa Teknologi Pangan (HIMFOODTECH) • January 31, 2024

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Naufal Ananta Sari – 2501999665

 

Some might say that GMOs are bad for the ecosystem. Some might say that GMOs can cause diseases Some might even say that GMOs can cause problems for the traditional farmers. While some of these are partially true, GMOs might also be the solution to the world’s nutritional worries. By fully utilizing GMOs, several advantages might arise, such as having increased nutritional value; being able to survive in harsh conditions; and increase yield of crops. (1)

How does modifying the genetics of an organism lead to increased nutritional value? Well, a pre-selected gene may increase the nutritional value of the food. A prime example of this is golden rice. Golden rice is a genetically engineered rice that aims to combat vitamin A deficiency (VAD). VAD is a serious health problem that can cause blindness in children.When compared to white rice, the nutritional value of them are almost equal to each other, apart from the vitamin A content. Golden rice are genetically modified by adding enzymes in ther genes which in turn causes the rice to produce vitamin A. Due to the production of vitamin A, the rice’s color goes from white to yellow which resembles gold, hence the name. Golden rice has 3 new proteins in its genetics which are ZmPSY1, CRTI, and PMI. All three of these proteins have been proven to have zero allergen and toxins when administered orally, degrades by gastric fluid which contains pepsin, and denatures rapidly at cooking temperatures. (2)

Figure 1. Comparison of golden rice and white rice appearance

While golden rice is built to combat nutrient deficiency, there are also GMO crops that are genetically engineered for surviving harsh conditions. A study (3) proposed the engineering of the DRO1, AlaAT, PSTOL1, PTXD/Phi and the PHR1-Pi-SPX complex which in turn will manipulate the phosphorus and nitrogen metabolism. The manipulation of nitrogen and phosphorus metabolism will enable the crops to grow in harsh conditions without excess uses of fertilizer. In addition, modified crops that have been genetically modified are known have higher yield and higher biomass while simultaneously having a lower water requirement. The GMO are also more pest resistant, which contributes to the higher yield. A study (4) has also shown that genetically modified crops can reduce the usage of pesticide by 37% and lower the cost for pesticide by 39% which ultimately increases farmer profit by 68.2%

In conclusion, GMOs have several negative stigma in the community like interfering with the traditional farmer’s work and causing allergies. However, past research has debunked these theories. GMOs have been shown to increase farmer yield and do not have any toxicity and allergens present. Regardless, GMOs might be a long-term solution for the world’s nutritional problems because GMOs can increase the nutritional value of a certain food, withstand harsh habitats, and increase the total crop yield. If done and controlled properly, GMOs might just be the savior of our future nutritional needs.

References

  1. Pros and cons of GMO foods: Health and environment [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2022 Jun 2]. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324576
  2. International Rice Research Institute [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2023 Dec 27]. Golden Rice FAQs. Available from: https://www.irri.org/golden-rice-faqs
  3. López-Arredondo D, González-Morales SI, Bello-Bello E, Alejo-Jacuinde G, Herrera L. Engineering food crops to grow in harsh environments. F1000Research. 2015 Sep 2;4:651.
  4. Klümper W, Qaim M. A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops. albertini emidio, editor. PLoS ONE. 2014 Nov 3;9(11):e111629.