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The Importance of GMOs in Agriculture And Possible Benefits for the Jamaican Economy

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) contain recombinant DNA that has been altered through genetic engineering, in which a functional gene or genes, relating to a novel trait, is randomly inserted into the genome of the organism (Kawall et al., 2020). In agriculture, many crops have been genetically engineered to increase quantity and quality, resist diseases, pests and adapting to environmental conditions, among other stress factors (Knezivic et al., 2012). Golden rice, which contains more carotene and iron, and insect-resistant corn are two examples of genetically modified crops created from recombinant DNA. In Jamaica, research is being conducted to develop a transgenic variety of papaya that is resistant to the Papaya Ringspot Virus.

Gene editing technology has increased our understanding of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and has progressed to become a viable agricultural approach by providing alternatives to potentially reduce food insecurity, conserve land, and mitigate the effects of climate change (Aerni, 2013). Concerns arose, however, from misinformation and the idea that genetically modified crops are "tampered with" and not natural compared to previous varieties of conventional crops (Aerni, 2013). There is little evidence that genetically modified crops and sustainable agriculture are incompatible, save from poor management practices and dangers that are common to both genetically modified and conventional crops (Aerni, 2013). Currently, there is no commercial production of genetically modified organisms in Jamaica; however, the Jamaican economy could benefit greatly from the increased advantages that gene technology provides in agriculture, allowing for increased food production and relieving pressure on current resources that are rapidly depleting.

While limitations to implementing regulations for GMO research persists, it is pertinent that there is ethical research accompanied by increased security in order to reduce potential risks and allow these organisms to be traded safely (Santiago Vispo, 2018).

As the world’s population increases, so does the demand for greater food production increases as well. Genetically modified crops offer the possibility of increasing production yields while enhancing the quality, which can be reduced by diseases and pests in otherwise non-modified crops. The usage of land area is better managed since there are less risks associate with improper crop management or infections. Genetically modified crops’ genome can also be altered to help them withstand diverse climatic conditions resulting in improved quality and quantity. Nonetheless, despite the benefits of GMOs, there is still opposition to permitting the sale of genetically modified crops due to ethical issues.

By Tageal Brady


References

Aerni, P. (2013). Resistance to agricultural biotechnology: The importance of distinguishing between weak and strong public attitudes. Biotechnology Journal, 8(10), 1129–1132. https://doi.org/10.1002/biot.201300188

Kawall, K., Cotter, J., & Then, C. (2020). Broadening the GMO risk assessment in the EU for genome editing technologies in agriculture. Environmental Sciences Europe, 32(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12302-020-00361-2

Knezivic, D., Kondic, D., & Markovic, S. (2012). Importance of genetically modified organisms. Agrosym Jahorina, 1(1). Third International Scientific Symposium. https://doi.org/10.7251/AGSY1203117K

Santiago Vispo, N. (2018). Genetically Modified Organisms. Importance in the current world. Bionatura, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.21931/rb/2018.03.01.1


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