SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English
HU Shi “Genetic Modification”
You can see words “genetic modified” or “non-modified” on labels of goods at supermarkets or convenient stores. We are taking a lot of “genetic modified foods” without noticing them because technologies of genetic modification are applied in feeds or materials of processed foods. As I have been researching for genetic modified plants as a student in Japan, I would like to explain about genetic modification here.
What is “Gene”？
According to a course book of biology, genes is made up of DNA segment which carry genetic information. “What is DNA?” Answer is Deoxyribonucleic Acid. Then, what is Deoxyribonucleic Acid? Questions and answers are endless. Simply put, genes can be said to be an engineering drawing for creatures. This drawing determines how creatures grow adapting to the environment. In case of human beings, genes determine gender, appearances, physical conditions or having congenital and untreatable diseases. It may determine lives of descendants.
There are many technologies which can change quasi figuration. For example, single-edged eyelids can be changed to double by operation. People can change their eye-color by wearing contacts. Gender can be changed by operation too. Changes mentioned above are superficial and things which are set on by genes cannot be changed. Some people cannot lose weight even though they eat less foods. Why? Some people do not become ill even though they do not exercise. Why? There are persons whose diseases are incurable. Why? … People think “Everything is determined by God”. However, it is genes that decide everything. The work of scientists is deciphering of this engineering drawings of “genes” to change our daily life.
What is “Genetic Modification”？
Genes modification is technology which install a part of creature’s genes in cells to other creatures and express. Simply put, when creature ‘A’ has an adverse point for its’ quality of life and creature ‘B’ has no such point, creature ‘A’ can survive having no adverse point by transferring genes of ‘B’.
The first genetic modification plant was tobacco in 1983 in America. In 1994, genetic modification tomato, called ‘Flavor saver tomato’ was sold for the first time in the world. Genetic modification crops have merits such as disease and pesticides resistance or big volume of yield amount. In Japan, they are importing big amount of genetic modified crops and using as raw materials for processed foods and livestock feeds. It is said that 90% of corn, cotton, rapeseed and soybean are genetic modified crops in Japan.
Safety of genetic modification crops
If you worry about genes transformation to human beings, I do not think it is “impossible” logically. “Spider-man” in the movie was born bitten “genetic modified super-spider”. But I do not think it to be materialized in these few decades. For example, there is a question about modified rice plants which BT genes are introduced. “We know insects in such rice plants are killed. However, are they harmless for human beings?” When insects eat modified rice plants, protein which are produced by BT genes will combine with receptors of insects. And it results in killing insects. Human beings or other creatures which have no such receptors as insects have no effects. There remains concern a little in safety of genetic modification crops. Don’t worry about imported genetic modification foods. Because they are imported under severe safety inspections.
“Genetic modification” is technical term and there are no relations with “good” or “bad”.
There are no relations with “right” or “wrong” in technical term. It is possible that we, as consumers, do not serve genetic modification foods on the table. It is possible also that we avoid putting on clothes which use genetic modification cottons.
I hope you would not deny results of research by scientists.
HU Shi / 2021 Raccoon, Nissan Chemical Corporation (in charge of development of pesticides)
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala