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What are some biosafety issues concerned with genetically modified crops.

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Last updated date: 11th Jun 2024
Total views: 401.7k
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Answer
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Hint: Biosafety is the safety practise of large-scale loss on biological integrity, focusing both on ecology and human health. Biosafety principles are usually applied to pharmaceutical and microbiological research laboratories with regard to maintaining occupational health and safety of the environment.

Complete step by step answer:
- The advent of biotechnological tools such as recombinant technology (rDNA technology) and generation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and/or Living Modified Organisms (LMOs), the principles of biosafety have also extended to the handling and transportation of such organisms.
- Development of genetically modified organisms (GMO) such as plants, animals and microbes that are used as biological control agents to the environment could cause ecological imbalance which could be disastrous for the whole ecosystem.
- Introduction of genetically modified microbes (GMM) for industrial purposes may lead to the generation of new infectious organisms.
- Development of herbicide resistance and enhanced photosynthesis may lead to originating more tolerant weeds as a result of cross pollination with related species.
- In case of negative effects of GM crops on soil fertility, the main concern is about the leakage of different compounds such as many plants leak chemical compounds in the soil through their roots than also into the normal crops as an unintended consequence of their altered DNA.
- It is assumed that in that scenario, these harmful chemicals can disturb the growth of microorganisms communities living near the transgenic plants.
- Any transgene integration can negatively affect the fine balance between plants and microorganisms which in turn can lead to the reduced soil fertility.
- It is also feared that such an event which involves microorganisms can lead to development of superbugs.
- One of the major concerns associated with cultivation of transgenic crops in open lands is that either selection markers such as antibiotic or herbicide resistant genes or the genes which make transgenic plants resistant to abiotic and biotic stresses can escape to the closely growing weeds.
Example:
- Bt corn roots are reported to leak Bt toxin in the soil, where it binds to some soil components and becomes resistant to degradation and more stable even without losing its ability to kill insect larvae.

Note:
- Bugs have enhanced ecological fitness due to acquisition of a new trait especially resistance to some antibiotic conferred by the selectable marker transgene after HGT.
- If continuously leaking the Bt toxin into the soil, it will result in a long- term build up of this toxin which might affect the non-target organisms living in the same environment. High concentrations of such toxins in soil for a long time would adversely affect the soil micro- flora and fauna; which might lead to decreased genetic diversity in that environment.