GMO Plants And Potentials To Improve Immunity And General Wellbeing

Written By: Dr Rose Gidado

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It is a fact that our immune systems do a remarkable job at fighting off foreign cells to protect us against diseases. Varying factors are at play, such as age, which determine how resilient this defense system will be.

Naturally, when a global health pandemic strikes, we’re bound to feel more concerned than usual about staying strong and healthy. As, until a vaccine is available, “our immune systems will need to adapt unaided to COVID-19”, so says the World Economic Forum.

Medical experts agree that Omega-3 fatty acids are critical to human health. Among their many benefits, these oils can help preserve eye and brain health, as well as reduce our risk for heart disease. The problem is, we typically get omega-3s from fish or fish-oil supplements, which promotes overfishing and threatens the delicate ecosystems of the world’s oceans.

READ MORE: NBMA C.E.O Urges Citizens To Snub Negative Info About GMO

Fortunately, crop biotechnology is beginning to take pressure off our vulnerable oceans. The ultimate source of omega-3s is the algae that fish consume, not the fish themselves. As a result, scientists can take the relevant genes from algae and insert them into oilseed crops like canola. These genetically modified plants have been approved in Australia and the US for use as food and animal feed, greatly reducing the amount fish we need to harvest for omega-3 production. According to one estimate, a single hectare of this GMO canola could produce the same amount of DHA oil (an omega-3 found in salmon and anchovies) that can be extracted from 10,000 one-kilogram fish.

Dr. Surinder Singh, a scientist at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), along with geneticist Kevin Folta have conducted cutting edge researches to prove the sustainability benefits of GMO-derived plant oils. While Dr Singh’s laboratory has been working to improve our access to omega-3s for nutritional purposes, the researchers also see bioengineered plant oils as a potential green energy source. These plant-derived oils can provide an affordable, sustainable supply of lubricants and greases used in a variety of industries, reducing our dependence on petroleum-based oils.

People eating ultra-processed foods ate more calories and gained more weight than when they ate a minimally processed diet, according to results from a National Institutes of Health study. The difference occurred even though meals provided to the volunteers in both the ultra-processed and minimally processed diets had the same number of calories and macronutrients. The results were published in Cell Metabolism.

READ MORE: GMO: Commercialising transgenic cotton varieties, disaster for Nigerians

This small-scale study of 20 adult volunteers, conducted by researchers at the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), is the first randomized controlled trial examining the effects of ultra-processed foods [containing] …. ingredients such as hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, flavoring agents, and emulsifiers.

For the study, researchers admitted 20 healthy adult volunteers, 10 male and 10 female, to the NIH Clinical Center for one continuous month and, in random order for two weeks on each diet, provided them with meals made up of ultra-processed foods or meals of minimally processed foods.

Vegetable-based lubricants have been used for many decades, but they require expensive chemical modifications to make them suitable for use at high temperatures. Advancements in biotechnology now allow scientists to modify plants, including canola, soybean, safflower and sunflower, to produce naturally stable oils that perform well at the high temperatures required by industry. Singh explains the remarkable progress that’s made this possible.

GMO Plants And Potentials To Improve Immunity And General Wellbeing
GMO Plants And Potentials To Improve Immunity And General Wellbeing

Science is evolving and Nigeria needs to wake-up as already the need to feed her escalating population is at its critical state of urgency with the declaration of ‘nutritional emergency’ in the Northeast of Nigeria by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is predicted that the world population will reach about 9.6 billion by 2050 with the need to effectively double food production in order to feed every mouth with a balanced diet. With new technological advancements in the agricultural revolution of precision farming, each farmer will be able to feed 265 people on the same land but it is so unfortunate that some Nigerian farmers are still way back left behind still battling with Hoe and Cutlass agriculture which is still seeing the Nigerian farmer unable to feed their immediate family. It is clear that the world agricultural system is evolving and Nigeria should not be left behind. The practices of agriculture in Nigeria needs a complete overhauling with the current trends in agriculture all over the world.

READ MORE: 5  Lucrative farming businesses in Nigeria

At a time, when the world is grappling with the outbreak of COVID-19, the quality of food we take must be taken seriously and if Nigeria must meet up with the food demand of her fast-growing population, Biotechnology cannot be overlooked. Tackling food security in Nigeria needs a multi-combinatorial approach that will reshape Nigeria farming system. Such approach must certainly include Genetic modification technology and Gene editing technology or just basically called Biotechnology.


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