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Limited and Controlled Release of Banana Plants Genetically Modified for Resistance to Panama Disease

Introduction to Genetically Modified Foods

Genetic engineering is a special collection of genetic modification which alters the genome of living organisms such as animals, plants or micro-organisms. Debates and social issues regarding GM foods and crops are generally based on human health and the environment, labelling and consumer preference, intellectual property issues, ethics, food protection, economic development, and environmental conservation (Bawa & Anilakumar, 2013). To improve banana resistance against the severe fungal disease Fusarium wilt, commonly known as Panama disease, the development of a genetically modified banana has been done using four genes from different sources. In this essay we have assessed the category of the dealing, to identify possible or perceived risks, and where required, to recommend risk management strategies.

Category of dealing with GM plants in Australia

The genetically modified banana comes under the form of Dealing with Intent to Release (DIR). Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has a role in regulating the use of such GM food in Australian food. All GM foods and ingredients should undertake a safety inspection before they're even marketed in New Zealand and Australia, and be authorized (Australian Government, 2018). The OGTR reviews any new knowledge applicable to GM crops in the science and other research and the Regulator has the authority to change, cancel, suspend or change permits. Significant penalties and sometimes even imprisonment will result from someone not allowed to have something to do with GM crops. This covers cultivating crops, importing crops, transporting crops, and without permission destroying of GM crops. The Regulator 's decision to approve the release of any GM crop is focused on an essential risk evaluation and risk management strategy for each program (Australian Government, 2018).

Identify Possible or Perceived Risks

The dwarf Cavendish banana is grown asexually through vegetative propagation of underground stem (corm) sections or from suckers. The wild vegetative proliferation often takes place by dispersal or uncontrolled growth of corms or suckers. Faster GMO growth can lead to a competitive advantage over native species. This can encourage them to become aggressive, spread into new environments, and cause harm to the environment and the economy (Qaim, 2016). The GM banana genes can also be transmitted by insect, bird or bat pollination to several other crops of similar species, and can also induce contamination or alteration of these plants. The risk of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is one risk of particular concern about GMOs. HGT is the acquiring of exogenous genes by species in several climatic situations (via transformation, transduction, and conjugation) (Prakash et al., 2011). The latest field trial to test the GM bananas is vulnerable to weather conditions, including floods and cyclones. Wind and water may disperse the pollens or vegetative sections of the GM plant and can lead to plant growth uncontrolled. There are also wild animals in the region including feral pigs that can kill the banana crop as well as disperse vegetative materials from banana plants (Russell & Sparrow, 2008). In the region, fruit bats and yellow-bellied sunbirds have the potential to propagate any pollen produced.

Risk Management Strategies

Risk management techniques are used to protect laboratory staff, the population at large, and the ecosystem from the possible adverse effects. Preventing infections and preventing the unintentional release (escape) of GMOs into the environment is critical. The pollen spread by insects and birds is reduced due to the low pollen production associated with the Cavendish cultivars. The fruit must be kept covered so that any fruit left uncovered / accessible in the region may not be eaten by the insects, birds, bats, and feral pigs (Staver & Capra, 2017). The non-banana trees can be planted for the cyclones and floods as a wind-break surrounding the area. The transportation of GM banana suckers from the lab to the proposed field site can be accomplished by private vehicle. Banana can be selected just before maturation and stored on-site in a shed to continue to mature. It can keep the GM from being exposed to the external world, which can reduce the risk factor. From weighing to chemical handling, the fruit can only be treated on-site. After chemical analysis, the fruit will be shredded and spread on-site on the ground to degrade (Tarjem, 2017). Upon harvesting, all on-site banana plants will be cut down to the stump, and herbicide can be applied to the stumps to prevent sucker regeneration or growth (as per normal agronomic practice). The waste material from the factory can be processed and deposited on-site on the field to decay. To keep a check on the possible threats, the site must be controlled for 6 months after the completion of the field trial. Any replanting of shoots or suckers will be avoided, and additional herbicide will be applied to curb production (Jacobsen et al., 2019). Before removal from the site, the equipment used during the whole process may be thoroughly decontaminated.

Description of Risk

Possible Control Measures

Wild vegetative proliferation

Any replanting of shoots or suckers will be avoided, and additional herbicide will be applied to curb production.

Risk of horizontal gene transfer (HGT)

Pollen spread by insects and birds is reduced due to the low pollen production.

Wind and water may disperse the pollens

Non-banana trees can be planted for the cyclones and floods as a wind-break

Fruit bats and yellow-bellied sunbirds have the potential to propagate any pollen produced

Fruits can be kept covered.

Toxicity and allergic reactions

Can be checked in laboratory at molecular levels

Management of the site

The site must be monitored for 6 months after the completion of the field trial

Transportation of GM banana

Can be done through private vehicles

Management of the waste material from site

Waste material from the site can be processed and deposited on the field to decay

On-site banana plants will be cut down to the stump, and herbicide can be applied to the stumps to prevent sucker regeneration or growth

Conclusion on Genetically Modified Foods

This new GM crop may give rise to harmful effects that are not monitored by management measures imposed by the authorities. Regulatory approvals for GMO field trials also include steps to time and space limit and monitor the initiation. Benefits aside, GMOs have also been considered a hazard to the environment and human health. In light of this, the biosafety regulations of individual countries have found it appropriate to check the efficacy of GMOs in confined and regulated conditions for any possible risks that they may pose. Taking proper accounts of uncertainty and public concern will help to identify the gains, reduce the risk and provide targets for future genetic engineering growth and usage.

References for Genetically Modified Foods

Australian Government. (2018). Genetically modified (GM) crops in Australia. Retrieved from$File/11%20-%20Genetically%20modified%20(GM)%20crops%20in%20Australia.pdf

Bawa, A., & Anilakumar, K. (2013). Genetically modified foods: Safety, risks and public concerns-a review. Journal of Food Science and Technology50(6), 1035–1046.

Jacobsen, K., Omondi, B., Almekinders, C., Alvarez, E., Blomme, G., Dita, M. & Staver, C. (2019). Seed degeneration of banana planting materials: Strategies for improved farmer access to healthy seed. Plant Pathology68(2), 207-228.

Prakash, D., Verma, S., Bhatia, R., & Tiwary, B. N. (2011). Risks and precautions of genetically modified organisms. ISRN Ecology2011.

Qaim, M. (2016). Genetically modified crops and agricultural development. Springer.

Russell, A. W., & Sparrow, R. (2008). The case for regulating intragenic GMOs. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics21(2), 153-181.

Staver, C., & Capra, I. (2017). Banana diversity and the food and income threats of pest and pathogen losses: priority research areas to deploy diversity to reduce pest and disease losses.

Tarjem, I. (2017). Feeding East Africa: Are genetically modified crops part of the solution? (Master's thesis, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås).

Remember, at the center of any academic work, lies clarity and evidence. Should you need further assistance, do look up to our Nursing Assignment Help

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