Glittering seahorses, venomous cabbage, featherless chickens – so, what’s next in the world of GMO animals and plants? And what is a genetically modified organism (GMO)?
GMO is a plant, animal, microorganism, or other organisms whose genetic makeup has been modified using recombinant DNA methods, gene modification, or transgenic technology. This new science has created unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. Despite the potential threat, scientists have continued producing these organisms for human benefits. Here is a list of some genetically modified organisms which are part of our day to day life and some may be in the near future:
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They were the first glowing fish that had genetic information from bioluminescent jellyfish added to its DNA. They are now sold in bright red, green, orange-yellow, blue, and purple fluorescent colors. Recently “Electric Green”, “Sunburst Orange”, “Moonrise Pink”, “Starfire Red”, “Cosmic Blue”, and “Galactic Purple” colored tetra have been added to the lineup. It is sold only in the United States, where it remains the only genetically modified animal to be publicly available. It was originally produced to provide a warning system for pollution, but with the addition of further colors, its viability for the pet market became clear. It was introduced to the US market in December 2003 by Yorktown Technologies of Austin, Texas.
2. Salmon Fish
It’s taken forever, but AquAdvantage salmon will soon be served in restaurants and appearing at your local fish counter! AquAdvantage is a man-made breed of salmon that’s part-Atlantic and part-Chinook, with a few genes from other fish thrown in that rev up the animal’s growth processes, so they’re active most of the year, as opposed to only part of the year. With these changes, AquaAdvantage’s developer, AquaBounty Technologies, says the salmon grow at twice the rate of farm-raised fish. The company claims that the fish has the same flavor, texture, color, and odor as a regular salmon. However, the debate continues over whether the fish is safe for human consumption.
3. Golden Seahorse
Glittering gold seahorse isn’t just a fairytale fantasy. It has been made real by the scientists at the Vietnam National University College of Science. Although small in size, these seahorses have are worth their weight in gold. Scientists used the gene GFP, a light-emitting gene extracted from the jellyfish, and combined with tiny grains of gold. These grains of gold were injected into the egg cells of a seahorse. The gold mixed with the jellyfish genes was incorporated into the cells of the sea horses, which glittered when they came into being,” the school’s head of animal physiology said.
These mosquitoes are known as dead-end mosquitoes. Some mosquitoes were engineered as a way to fight malaria and dengue. These diseases cause a million deaths annually as well as infecting millions of people. The malaria fighting mosquitoes are able to resist the plasmodium parasite, which means that it is almost impossible for them to become infected with the disease. The thing, however, is that Plasmodium parasites can evolve quickly, leading to some people wondering if we would be better off by killing mosquitoes.
Oxitec, a UK based Biotech company, has engineered flightless female and sterile male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that either cannot reproduce or whose offspring die before reaching maturity. After an Oxitec mosquito has successfully mated with a wild female, any offspring that result will not survive to adulthood, so the mosquito population declines. By applying the Oxitec Control Programme to an area, the mosquito population in that area can be dramatically reduced or eliminated.
Pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella) is one of the most destructive pests of cotton in many areas of the world, including in India, China, Brazil, and the western USA. Oxitec has invented specials fluorescent markers that glow red when viewed under certain filters. Because it is integrated into the insects’ DNA, the red marker can always be detected during the insect’s lifetime, and it is inherited if offspring are produced. The marker can also be detected by analyzing DNA in the laboratory, guaranteeing complete accuracy. The strain is otherwise identical to that used in the current SIT program and is sterilized by irradiation in exactly the same way. The strain offers completely reliable monitoring to existing sterile insect programs.