Toxic and Genetic Modification
What is Pollution?
The introduction of an entity that causes harm, disorder or discomfort to the eco-system, contaminating the environment, is known as pollution. These entities could be in the form of chemical substances, or in different forms of energy, such as heat, noise or light.
What types of pollution are there?
There are various types of pollution:
• Air pollution – This is when pollutants in the form of chemicals and particles are released into the atmosphere. The most common air pollutants include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and nitrogen oxides produced by industry and motor vehicles.
• Water pollution – This is the release of pollutants into a water body such as water from a polluted drainage system flowing into the ocean. Water pollutants come in the form of raw sewage from factories, oil spills from ships, littering etc.
• Soil contamination – Soil contaminations occur when chemicals are spilt, or there is an underground leakage. The most common forms of soil contaminations are hydrocarbons, heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides and chlorinated hydrocarbons.
• Littering – Waste produced by man, e.g. throwing a wrapper on the street.
• Radioactive contamination – This is a form of contamination that came into existence due to activities in ‘atomic physics’ in the 20th century. These include nuclear power generation and nuclear weapons research, manufacture and deployment.
• Noise pollution – Noise pollution is caused by roadway noise, aircraft noise, industrial noise as well as high-intensity sonar.
• Light pollution – This includes light trespass, over-illumination and astronomical interference.
• Visual pollution – This form of pollution refers to the scarring of natural beauty by man-made constructions. E.g. overhead power lines, motorway billboards etc.
• Thermal pollution – This is a temperature change in natural water bodies caused by human influence, such as the use of water as a coolant in a power plant.
What can you do?
In the past, all of mankind unitedly and unintentionally brought the planet to the miserable condition that it’s in now. It will require the same unity to fix the damages we have done. We will have to work collectively to cut down on pollution, but it is up to us as individuals to get the ball rolling. All it takes is a bit of civic sense. Instead of chucking a wrapper out of the window of your car, hold on to it for a little longer till you reach a bin. If we could change our lifestyles a little, use little fossil fuel, conserve electricity, waste less - it could do the environment a world of good.
What is Genetic Modification?
Popularly, people relate ‘GM’ to General Motors, but in environmental circles, GM stands for a far more dangerous process – ‘genetic modification’. This is the term given to describe the direct manipulation of an organism’s genes. This is not the same as traditional breeding where an organism’s genes are modified indirectly. Genetic modification uses techniques of molecular cloning and transformation to alter the characteristics and structure of genes directly.
What do you need to know?
Genetically modified products have the capability of looking their best. For instance, a genetically modified apple would look a lot more fresh and juicy than an apple grown legitimately. However the genetically modified apple would fail to surpass the earth grown apple in terms of health and benefits.
What can you do?
The best way to tackle vendors of genetically modified goods, is to refuse to buy their products. Greenpeace, a fierce group of environment activists, are spearheading a campaign against the purchase of ‘Dorito’s corn chips’, a snack under the Pepsi company, as it is believed that they use genetically modified corn in their product. The ideal food products to buy would be food grown in organic conditions. Though marked at a slightly higher price, organically grown food gives you optimum benefits.
List of GM vendors/products
• Pepsico’s ‘Dorito’ corn chips. • Phillip Morris’s ‘Nabisco’ (baby food) • Nestle’s Infant Formula Carnation Infant Formulas (baby food) • Nestle’s Toll house semi-sweet chocolate chips. • Kellogg's Corn Flakes. All are a few examples of genetically modified products available on the market.
• A Textbook of Environmental Pollution and Control (In 2 Vols.)
- R.N. Trivedi Published by Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd.
• Agricultural Biotechnology in California Series: Publication 8178
On the Web
• How widely have GM crops been adopted overseas, and which crops have been genetically modified?
Approximately 125 million hectares of GM crops have been grown in 25 countries in 2008. It is believed that it is possible to modify all crops, however there are some technical problems with inserting DNA into some plants, and some do not regenerate well under laboratory conditions. The most commonly modified are: - Corn, Papaya, Soybean, Tomato, Potato, Cotton and Rice.
• What is carbon dioxide equivalent?
Carbon dioxide equivalent or CO2e describes the amount of global warming a particular type of greenhouse gas may cause, using the functionally equivalent amount or concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) as the reference.