As the European Union (EU) legally defines them, genetically modified crops are crops, of which genetic material has been changed in a way that does not take place naturally by breeding or natural recombination. In the EU countries, it is illegal to deliberately release GMOs into the environment and it is required to label food that contains more than 1% of these crops. Basically, creating genetically modified crops entails inserting genetic materials into certain organisms in laboratories without natural breeding or reproduction. Instead of breeding different plants together to bring out certain traits in their offspring, these plants or their microbes are injected with DNA from another species.
Over the years since this technology has been adopted, there have been debates going on around the world about it. For some people, the idea of genetically modified crops is a good one, as it allows plants to become resistant to infestations and drought, allowing more people to enjoy more regular meals. Research even shows that this technology has allowed the world to produce 17% more food than it needs to support every family. However, others are looking at this technology as a dangerous proposition. Considering its drawbacks, many of us want to avoid GMO crops, with studies showing changes in the plants’ internal cell structure, abnormal tumor growth and unexpected deaths. If you are also confused about this subject matter, as the new technology is riddled with arguments and questions, it is best to know the pros and cons of genetically modified crops.
List of Pros of Genetically Modified Crops
1. They generally offer better overall quality and taste.
Through modifying crops, their flavors can be enhanced. For example, corn can become sweeter and peppers can become spicier. Generally, we can make difficult flavors to become more palatable with this technology.
2. They produce improved seeds.
People genetically alter seeds for many reasons, which include generating healthier crops and improving resistance to insects, lowering the risk of crop failure and making plants better resist extreme weather. This type of genetic engineering can also produce longer shelf life, allowing for the safe and ensured transport of these seeds to other countries.
3. They are more resistant to diseases.
As for these types of crops, they become more resistant to unexpected diseases. This technology can be considered as plant vaccine, but the difference is only that we encode the vaccine into the genetics, instead of a shot given as to it is done in animals.
4. They come with environmental benefits.
When growing genetically modified crops, there would be less time, chemicals, land and machinery needed for them, which helps lessen environmental pollution, erosion and even greenhouse gas emissions. This means that farmers will have enhanced productivity, as they would not have that amount of real estate for crops. And as farmers will have crops, such as potatoes, cotton and corn, without spraying bacterial insecticides because their crops are already producing their own insecticides, everything will be advantageous.
5. They offer more nutrition benefits.
These types of crops already have vitamins and minerals added to them via the modification processes to provide greater nutritive benefits to consumers. This is particularly true in developing countries that do not always have the access to the needed resources they need.
6. They hold promise.
The use of molecular biology in creating genetically modified crops has been observed to be successful and is holding promise. As you can see, researchers and scientists have been engineering plants to produce proteins, vaccines and other pharmaceutical products created in the process we call as “pharming”.
List of Cons of Genetically Modified Crops
1. They contribute to environmental damage.
By growing crops in places where conditions normally would not support them, it is possible that they would damage the environment. This situation is often seen in GMO cross-breading, where weeds that can be crossed with GMO plants for example can often become resistant to herbicides, which can create the necessity for more efforts for GMO.
2. They create gene migration.
As what the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization stated, “Through ‘gene escape,’ they can pass on to other members of the same species and perhaps other species. Genes introduced in GMOs are no exception, and interactions might occur at gene, cell, plant, and ecosystem level. Problems could result if, for example, herbicide-resistance genes got into weeds. So far, research on this is inconclusive, with scientists divided — often bitterly. But there is scientific consensus that once widely released, recalling transgenes or foreign DNA sequences, whose safety is still subject to scientific debate, will not be feasible.”
3. They bring economic value.
Basically, genetically modified crops would take just a long time to mature and would take just as much effort to develop, which means that there is no real economic value to growing these plants when compared to traditional and non-modified crops.
4. They contribute to growth in allergic reactions in the general population.
Over the years, research has shown that consuming these types of crops has increased the risks of food-based allergies on their consumers. In fact, survey shows that food allergies in children under 18 have increased from 1997 to 1999, though there was no conclusive scientific link to GMO crops directly involved in the experiments.
5. They can result to lowered resistance to antibiotics.
While studies show that genetically modified crops have built-in antibiotic qualities to boost immunity, eating them has not proven to lessen the effectiveness of actual antibiotics.
6. They have financial impacts on the economy.
This technology is said to have a substantial amount of money to be performed. In fact, $200 million was invested in creating Flavr Savr, with almost nothing of the investment has been reclaimed. Also, these types of crops have cost the US billions of dollars in farm subsidies, but led to lost sales and product recalls caused by transgenic contamination. Not only that this happened in the US, but also in other countries, such as India.
When evaluating the pros and cons of genetically modified crops, you should try to find out if the benefits outweigh the risks, considering their mass production. On your end, what do you think?
Crystal Ayres is a proud veteran, wife and mother. Our goal at Green Garage is to publish the most in depth content on the internet for every topic we write about. If you would like to reach out to contact Crystal, then go here to send her a message.