Genetically Modified Organisms

Some Facts and Fears

FACTS:

  • A Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is a living organism (e.g. plant, animal or bacterium) and results when a gene is transferred from one organism (donor) to another organism (host). A gene gives an organism its characteristics and also the instruction for building and maintaining life
  • Examples of common GM crops are soyabean, corn, cotton and canola (oil producing plant)
  • In Jamaica, field tests are being done on GM papaya which is resistant to the Ring Spot Virus

FEARS:

Creation or aggravation of allergic reactions – in human, concerns involve the possibility for allergic reactions. This would occur when a gene from a food known to cause allergic reactions for example peanuts, is introduced into foods that are not known allergens such as soybean

  • Insect resistance – GM crops that are resistant to insects may cause the target insect to develop resistance
  • Creation of super weeds herbicide resistance genes could move from GM crops to other weed species which would resist conventional control methods such as pesticide application
  • Loss of biodiversity  the use of insect resistant GM crops may reduce the number of insect species that depend on them which in turn reduces the number of birds and other wild life that prey or depend on them.