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GMOs and the Environment, Part 1



GMOs and the Environment, Part 1
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.66

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    bioengineering, non-GM, preprogrammed, toxicology, unknowing, alarming, outcry, favorable, organism, composition, technological, activate, suppress, twentieth, microscopic, naturally


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GMOs and the Environment, Part 1
By Mary Lynn Bushong
  

1     Not long ago, headlines were made when a GMO (genetically modified organism) form of corn was found to have been added to human foods. Why was there such an outcry at the time? What was it about a GMO crop that was so alarming? Perhaps the biggest reason people feared it is that no one knows what the possible side effects are.
 
2     Let's start at the beginning. People have been breeding new varieties of plants for thousands of years. By choosing some genetic traits over others, they can suppress or activate certain genes that change how the plant looks or works. The important part is that no new genetic material has been added to the plant's DNA chain.
 
3     In the latter half of the twentieth century, scientists began to experiment with adding foreign genes to an existing DNA strand. This process is done on such a small scale that it isn't like selecting and cutting out one bit and laying it into the strand. Gene splicing had to be done at a sub microscopic level.

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