In 1964, the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines managed to breed new strains of rice that doubled the yields of previous types. This discovery spawned the Green Revolution, a worldwide farming movement that sought to end world hunger. This movement aimed to bring high-yield crops able to thrive in harsh conditions to farmers in the developing world.
The Green Revolution dramatically increased the size of harvests and introduced modern farming methods throughout the world. But it couldn't end starvation. Instead, it created many problems of its own. The fertilisers and pesticides used in this new method of farming caused water pollution, soil erosion and lowered soil fertility. They also harmed biodiversity and made farmers dependent upon chemical companies for their livelihoods.
By 1972, another revolution was underway. Biochemist Paul Berg at Stanford University discovered how to join together DNA from two different organisms, creating the first recombinant DNA molecule. This breakthrough was followed the next year by a pioneering study in which scientists Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer inserted DNA from an African clawed toad into the Ecoli bacterium. However, as soon as the euphoria over these discoveries had subsided, many scientists began to question the safety and ethics of the research.
The 1975 Asilomar conference in California was held to discuss these issues. Some biologists argued passionately for a moratorium, or freeze, on genetic research until the safety of the technology could be established.
However, this was not passed and the conference delegates agreed to continue research into genetic engineering. In order to dodge regulation of their research by outside bodies, scientists pledged to keep all recombinant DNA and genetically engineered organisms contained safely within laboratories.
If GM lives up to the opinions of its most enthusiastic supporters, it could reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers, allow people to farm in harsh environments and increase crop yields. It could also make our food healthier and more nutritious to eat. Current modifications to GM crops are likely to be refined. Pest resistant crops such as ยา corn could be modified to repel bugs without killing them. Many foods will also be engineered to be more nutritious.
But scientists are already working on the next giant step in the GM revolution, one which could turn the world on its head. Protein factories
Plants and fruit could be turned into to harvest custom proteins and materials such as:
Vaccines and drugs
Healthy oils to combat illnesses such as heart disease
Bio-lubricants to replace current hydraulic fluids
Vegetables such as tomatoes could provide an enclosed, sterile environment in which to manufacture these products. Biofuels can be produced from conventional farming crops such as soya and sugarbeet.
In future, scientists hope to run cars on fuel made from plants. These biofuels could be based on soybean and rapeseed oil, or ethanol, which could be brewed and distilled from sugarbeet or cereals. Researchers say that these fuels can already be used to run cars and they are working on ways to make them even more efficient.
These innovations in genetic modification could create an explosion of new businesses and pull old ones together. Modifying crops to produce end products could merge the pharmaceutical, chemical and farming industries into one.
It is likely that biotech companies will meet with significant opposition along the way. European consumers in particular will need a considerable amount of convincing. In the US, meanwhile, opposition to GM is regarded as backward. This rift in attitudes on different sides of the Atlantic could damage trade relations. Most experts agree that governments and biotech companies will have to tackle these obstacles before they can truly explore the full potential of genetic modification.
Explain the words, translate them into Russian. Quote the sentence in which they occur.
A strain of rice, to spawn, to seek to end world hunger, to thrive in harsh conditions, modern farming methods, starvation, fertilizers, pesticides, soil erosion, lowered soil fertility, biodiversity, a recombinant DNA molecule, a pioneering study, euphoria, ethics, moratorium, to live up to the options, to increase crop yields, nutritious, to repel bugs, vaccines, to combat illnesses, eco-friendly bio-fuels, bio-lubricants, hydraulic fluids, biodegradable, sterile environment, rapeseed oil, to distill from, to pull together, pharmaceutical, to meet with significant opposition, rift in attitudes.
To do this exercise, glance at the text above for information, then, eyes up, give a response.
1. Describe the advantages of genetic modification over traditional breeding.
2. What is the green Revolution? Provide its aims and aspirations.
3. Give negative consequences of new farming methods introduced throughout the world.
4. Why did some biologists argue passionately for a moratorium on genetic research in 1975 in California?
5. Describe positive sides of GM crops. Give as many points as possible.
6. What is the concept of protein factories?
7. Present the idea of flower power.
8. What economic changes do genetic modifications bring?
9. Enlarge on the obstacles governments and biotech companies have to tackle. Provide your personal view on the problem.
10. How can you characterize the attitude to GM foods in Russia? Has this question gained much prominence in Russian mass media?
Complete these sentences using phrases from the text.
1. Genetic modification has enabled us to_______.
2. Many recognised that this new knowledge had the potential to______.
3. The fertilisers and pesticides used in this new method of farming caused ______. They also harmed_____and made farmers___chemical companies for their_____.
4. By 1972, another revolution was_____.
5. As soon as the euphoria over these discoveries had subsided, many scientists began to question the______and______of the research.
6. In order to_______regulation of their research by outside bodies, scientists pledged to keep all recombinant DNA and genetically engineered organisms contained safely within laboratories.
7. If GM_____to the opinions of its most enthusiastic supporters, it
could reduce the use of______and_______, allow people to farm in ___ and increase crop yields.
8. Vegetables such as tomatoes could provide an _____, _____ environment in which to manufacture these products.
9. Modifying crops to produce end products could merge the ____ , ___ and ______ industries into one.
10. It is likely that biotech companies will meet with______opposition along______.
Find out what the following people and organisations think the future holds for GM: Choose the opinion to your liking, enlarge on it