GMO Handbook Genetically Modified Animals, Microbes, and Plants in Biotechnology

Article excerpt

GMO Handbook Genetically Modified Animals, Microbes, and Plants in Biotechnology By Sarad R. Parekh, Humana Press Inc., 2004, 374 pages, hardbound $145.00

Sarad Parekh edited this book that discusses the history, current and future applications, and issues associated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The discussion is primarily centered on medicine, agriculture and food as these areas constitute past and current uses, however, there is discussion of future applications such as soil and environmental remediation and water treatment.

The book's introductory chapter gives a succinct history of recombinant DNA development and applications as well as introduces some of the ethical and social issues of the technology. The remainder of the book is divided into sections on microbial GMOs, mammalian GMOs, and plant GMOs. The section on microbial GMOs goes into some detail on the historical uses of microbial GMOs and specifically describes the development and application of Bt proteins. Further discussion addresses concerns over risks to humans and the environment in addition to regulations primarily in the United States but also in the European Union and selected countries. Ethical considerations discussed for microbial GMOs include public perceptions, environmental release and patents. One author interestingly points out that many uses of microbial GMOs have been and are accepted without question in both medicine and food production.

The section on mammalian GMOs begins with a detailed discussion of protein production in animal cells including several cell culture techniques and media. The next chapter focuses on the safety, ethics and regulation of transgenic animals and carefully raises many of the ethical issues without coming to any specific conclusions for that is left to the reader. The chapter's authors point out that the larger society must come together to decide over these moral concerns and regulation of the advancing technology. The final mammalian chapter gives an overview of the techniques and potential applications of transgenic aquatic animals,.

The final section of the book covering plant GMOs begins with a chapter on the methods of plant transformation and subsequent transgene analysis and marker systems. This is followed by consideration of the molecular aspects of gene silencing and subsequent discussion of the "challenges and opportunities regarding commercialization of the next generation" of transgenic crops. Included here are a number of tables of cash flow and development costs for hypothetical transgenic crops as well as estimated economic losses by factors such as drought. All of that is discussed to demonstrate the potential of GMOs for future agricultural production. The next chapter gives excellent coverage of biosafety issues such as allergens and gene flow with considerable literature references. …