Why do we need to transgene

(Sun Yi)

GMO's English full name is Genetically-Modified Organism, or genetically modified organisms, commonly known as genetically modified organisms. GMO is obtained through transgenic technology. The greatest feature of transgenic technology is the ability to exchange good genes across species. For crops, it is possible to achieve targeted and precise improvements in traits such as quality, resistance, and yield, so that goals that cannot be achieved through conventional breeding techniques can be achieved. GM crops can significantly improve the yield, stress resistance (including disease resistance, insect resistance, cold resistance, salt and alkali resistance, herbicide resistance, etc.) and nutritional quality compared with traditional crop varieties, and can also significantly reduce production costs. Reduce environmental pollution in agricultural production.

Faced with the enormous population growth pressure on the productivity of the earth, the best choice for human beings is to increase the efficiency of agricultural production and produce high-quality agricultural products in a way that has a relatively small impact on nature. While protecting the environment, it also meets the needs of the villagers of the earth. demand. GM technology came into being under the demand of this situation.

Transgenic plants are inevitable in the development of new varieties of crops

Since its own agricultural production, mankind has begun to select crop varieties. The initial choice was to use superior offspring produced by natural mutations and natural crosses; then a conscious crossbreeding process was initiated. Whether natural hybridization or artificial hybridization is a process in which the whole genome of an individual is fused with the entire genome of another organism and recombined in the offspring.

Agricultural production has been developed to today, crop yields have increased by tens or even hundreds of times compared with the slash and burn, and its most fundamental driving force is the continuous improvement of crop varieties and continuous improvement of production conditions. In past breeding work, breeders were able to combine the genes of the two crop varieties only by means of sexual crosses, to select good individuals from the segregating populations of their crossbreds, and to obtain the target varieties through continuous selection. However, the availability of genetic resources in the natural gene bank of many cultivated crops in nature is decreasing, and agricultural production faces many unprecedented new challenges, forcing plant breeders to turn their attention to a broader pool of biological resources. Wild relatives, up to the more distantly related species, find useful genes. The existence of reproductive isolation between different species of organisms makes it difficult or even impossible for breeders to transfer the desirable genes required by humans from distant species to cultivated species in a conventional manner.

With the development of molecular biology, technologies that can obtain a single good gene and transfer these genes to target species have emerged in this situation. This is the gene cloning and transgenic technology. Compared to the fusion of two genomes from distant hybridizations and the uncertainty of mutagenic radiation (including cosmic radiation), the GM technology we use today must not only be mild, but also more controllable and directional. The rigorous biosafety assessment that GM varieties must undergo prior to commercialization is sufficient to ensure their safe use for the environment and humans. The methods for cultivating new crop varieties have their own advantages and limitations and should complement each other.

The invention of electricity, the application of nuclear technology and so on are all a double-edged sword. This list is too numerous to mention. Any progress in science and technology will inevitably bring about corresponding risks. What we need to do is to reduce the possibility of these risks to a minimum and make them better for the benefit of nature and humans through more in-depth and meticulous research. Rather than because of the impediment to the development of science and technology.

GM technology is the guarantee of the success of green agriculture

Not only can GM crops increase crop yields and agricultural production efficiency, but they can also play an invaluable role in protecting the environment and improving health for humans, and can become an important part of green agriculture. Putting GM technology in opposition to green agriculture will greatly hinder and limit the development of green agriculture itself. Agricultural farming methods that do not use any chemicals at all, the so-called "organic agriculture", are difficult to apply on a large scale and lasting because they violate the natural laws of "natural selection and survival of the fittest." One of the purposes of cultivating genetically modified varieties is to enhance the crop's own resistance to pests and diseases, thereby giving it an advantage in competition with pests and diseases, allowing farmers to reduce their use until they do not use pesticides. Therefore, the goal of GM technology and green agriculture is the same.

Due to its high yield, high efficiency, and low energy consumption, genetically modified varieties can also significantly reduce CO2 emissions or increase CO2 absorption in agricultural production, thereby contributing to global warming mitigation. In North America, less than 50% of pesticides were used because of the application of genetically modified crops, and only 140,000 tons of insecticides were used in 2007 alone, and the use of fuel was greatly reduced due to reduced field operations. In China, since the planting of genetically modified Bt insect-resistant cotton varieties in 1997, more than 7 million farmers have increased revenue by about US$ 220 per hectare for a 10% increase in production and 60% reduction in pesticide use (equivalent to a national increase of US$ 1 billion). ). These insect-resistant cotton varieties not only protect themselves, but also protect surrounding crops from pests.

Only by planting varieties of genetically modified crops with high efficiency, low consumption, resistance to disease and insect resistance, can green agriculture be widely and persistently developed to produce agricultural products that are both high in yield and free of pesticides or mycotoxins. GM technology is one of the powerful weapons of green biotechnology, and it is also a key to solving the problems in green agricultural production. Therefore, if the GM technology is classified into the category of green agriculture, it will greatly promote the development of China's green agriculture and genetically modified technologies.

Transgenic is necessary to improve China's agricultural competitiveness

Over the years, some large multinational corporations have been coveting the huge agricultural and agricultural markets in China and have taken practical actions to try to occupy our country’s market. The varieties of genetically modified crops are one of the magic weapons that they use to knock open the door of China's agricultural products market. More than 10 years ago, when insect-resistant genetically modified cotton was just introduced in China, more than 70% of the area of ​​genetically modified cotton was cultivated in a large company in the United States. Since then, China has intensified its support for the research and development of genetically modified cotton. The launching of research projects such as the national "863" and "special transgenic projects" has brought China's GM cotton research and production to a new level. Today, more than 70% of the cultivated area of ​​transgenic cotton in China has become the world of self-breeding varieties.

Several years ago, when foreign genetically modified soybeans began to enter China, there was a domestic voice saying that China was the birthplace of soybeans. To prevent wild resources from being "contaminated" by genetically modified varieties, we should not engage in research on genetically modified soybeans, so we tried to use conventional varieties and Foreign companies' genetically modified soybeans compete. But in the past 10 years, the import of genetically modified soybeans has gradually encroached on China's soybean market. Today, China needs to import about 30 million tons of soybeans each year, most of which are genetically modified soybeans. The soybean industry in our country appears to be so pale and weak in the face of strong foreign competition.

To sum up, what we need is to treat genetically modified research with a scientific and rational attitude, boldly use transgenic technology, promote some good GM crop varieties that have proven to be harmless, and truly bring into play their role in promoting the development of productive forces and social progress.

(The author is a member of the Science and Technology Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture and a researcher of the Shanxi Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center)