Bioethics in Plant Genetic Engineering
The GM crops are fast becoming a part of agriculture throughout the world because of their capacity for increased crop productivity and their use in health-care and industry. However, there are conflicting schools of thought regarding the safety issues related to the use of GM crops and foods. The major concerns about GM crops and GM foods are:
- Are GM foods fit for human and animal consumption?
- What will be the effect of GM crops on biodiversity and environment?
- the risk of transgenes escaping through pollen to related plant species (gene pollution) which may lead to the development of highly resistant super weeds.
-The GM crops may change the fundamental vegetable nature of plants as the genes from animals (e.g. fish or mouse) are being introduced into crop plants.
- The transfer of antibiotic resistance marker genes present in transgenic crops into microbes which can induce the problem of antibiotic resistance in human and animal pathogens.
- The GM crops may cause changes in the evolutionary pattern.
There is a need for public debate on these aspects of using GM foods and crops. The researchers and scientists are accumulating a large number of authentic and reproducible evidence about the safety of these products by doing field trials. The transgenic crops e.g. cotton, tomato, corn and soybean are already being used commercially after the risk assessment for environmental safety. However one cannot deny the importance of the assessment of the risks associated with the use of transgenic plants for animals and humans before they are released in to the environment. According to some people the use of GM crops and plant genetic engineering will be a very effective tool to sole the problems of poverty and hunger.