BT403 GDB Spring 2019 Solution & Discussion
List of Advantages of GMOs
The mapping of GMO genetic material has increased knowledge about genetic alterations and paved the way for the enhancement of genes in crops to make them more beneficial in terms of production and human consumption. For instance, crops can be engineered to resist unfavorable temperatures or produce higher yields, thus providing a greater level of genetic diversity in regions where climate hinders productivity.
GMOs have become a very efficient means for farmers to make larger profits, as it allows them to spend less time on resources. It is also economically efficient in a way that these organisms are designed to be pest-resistant, eliminating the need to use pesticides, which means more savings.
Another great reason to grow GMO crops is that these plants will get added nutritional value, especially among those that previously lack the necessary vitamins and minerals. As there are regions around the world that heavily rely on rice or corn, plant genes can be added to such crops to boost their nutritional value, which is particularly helpful in malnourished populations. And because GMOs are able to resist pests and other plant diseases, crop yields will be increased without the farmers having to use pesticides.
Advanced crops and higher yields certainly mean lower costs, which are a benefit that can be passed to the consumers in the form of cheaper food products. This will be very helpful to families who cannot afford to buy supplies for everyday consumption. This also means that starvation will be prevented.
After precise testing and evaluation of GMOs and other related products, they are found to be safe for human consumption. In fact, study shows that they are even safer compared to traditional crops.
List of Disadvantages of GMOs
The process of growing GMOs includes the addition of new genetic material into a crops genome, and similar to bacterial genetic engineering in agricultural ecology, this means the introduction of new genes in crops, like corn. Experimental cultivation of these crops started in the US and Canada in the 1980s and became large scale and commercial in the mid 1990s. Now, research on the effects of large-scale growing of GMOs has revealed various concerns on ecosystems with GMO strains, which are believed to have the potential to alter agriculture. Particularly, GM plants had left unwanted or residual effects remaining in the soil for extended periods of time after they were removed, alerting agricultural regulators. Data shows that despite the absence of the genetically modified plants, their strain persisted for up to 6 years.
GM crops are said to be dangerous to some insects, as their genes could be deadly to them. This is definitely a serious issue when it comes to certain insects that are useful to the ecosystem, such as butterflies, and are not actually dangerous to crops.
Engineered plants are found to function as mediators to the transfer of genes to wild plants and the creation of weeds. To keep them under control, scientists are inventing new herbicides that were not necessary for non-GMO weeds and are toxic to various animals that feed on GMO crops, such as cows. Tests have shown the uptake of these herbicides having toxic consequences on certain organisms and the ecosystem in general.
Those who oppose the creation of GMOs push their argument with regards to the effect of these products on genetic diversity. They say that genes from GM crops can spread to organic farm crops, threatening diversity in agriculture. If it does happen that crop diversity decreases, this will have a serious impact on the population dynamics of other organisms and the entire ecosystem. While the chance that the strain of one genetically modified crop could pollinate an already existing non-GM crop is unpredictable and unlikely, as there are certain conditions to be met for cross pollination to occur, a large-scale plantation has the ability to release a GM strain during pollination, thus increasing the risk. As a result of the cross pollination to non-GM plants, hybrid strains are created, which means there is a greater chance of ecological novelty to occur. New artificial strains will be introduced into the ecosystem that can potentially decrease the level of biodiversity through competition.
Research on the effects of growing GM crops on a large scale has sparked various concerns, specifically those regarding ecosystems with GMO strains. According to scientists, these strains have the potential to change agriculture in a negative way.
GMOs are undeniably an excellent means when we want to save on the budget for our everyday food. But before we apply this agriculture technology and method, it is highly important to look deeply into its advantages and disadvantages first. By doing so, we can determine if these products are the most appropriate option for us to get the right profit. Based on the facts listed in this article, what would be your stand on this subject?