Since genetically modified organisms were first developed, they have shown very promising solution to a lot of world’s problems such as nutrition, medicine, environment, agriculture etc. But along with these solutions came another set of problems, the impact of these GMOs on the environment and human health. A large section of scientists fear the escape of GMOs in the wild and harming the ecosystem. But now the researchers have come up with a solution that can keep the GMOs in check.
The researchers from the Harvard and Yale have successfully altered the genome of E.coli so that their growth and differentiation become dependent on a synthetic amino acid which does not exist naturally. In order to prove this, the researchers cultured a colony of 1 trillion modified bacteria and kept them in a medium devoid of that particular synthetic amino acid. This lead to the death of all the bacteria present in the culture. This indicates that they cannot survive out in the wild.
All the previous attempts like this had failed, as the GMOs always managed to evolve out of their engineered weakness and in few cases they managed to capture the nutrient from the environment. As this amino acid is not present in the environment, the risk is greatly reduced.
Farren Isaacs, the lead researcher from the Yale stated that, “Biotechnology is going to play an important role in society, economy, medicine and health.” He further emphasized the importance to introduce these measures from the early stages.