13 Main Advantages and Disadvantages of GMOs

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a form of scientific farming where chemicals are pumped to crops to increase product sizes and yield. Although this method is highly debated, it has become increasingly common in everyday foods. However, just like any other process, it also has two sides. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of creating genetically modified crops.

What Are the Advantages of GMOs?

1. It allows for more profit.
GMOs are an effective way to provide farmers a larger profit, while making them spend less time on resources.

2. It introduces the knowledge of genetic alterations.
This is done through mapping genetic material for GMO crops. This way, we would get the ability to enhance crop genes and make them more beneficial for human production and consumption. Plants can be engineered to resist temperature or produce higher yields, which is good for regions where climate limits productivity.

3. It is economically efficient.
Because GMOs are designed to resist pests, there will be no need for pesticides to be used, which means more savings.

4. It is known to decrease food prices.
Advanced crops and lower costs can lead to cheaper food. This will certainly help families who cannot afford to buy their needed supply for everyday consumption, so starvation will be prevented.

5. It adds more nutritional value to crops.
The GMO method can put in added nutritional value to crops that lack necessary vitamins and minerals. Considering that there are places in the world relying on rice or corn as their daily staple, plant genes may be added to these crops to increase their nutritional value. This would help malnourished populations receive more nutrients from their diet.

6. Its products are found to be safe.
The precise evaluation and testing of GMOs crops and other products means they are safe for human consumption. In fact, research shows that they are safer compared with traditional crops.

What Are the Disadvantages of GMOs?

1. It can be dangerous to other insects that are important to our ecosystem. 
GMOs are believed to be dangerous to some insects because new crop genes can be deadly to them. This is worth noting when it comes to certain insects, such as butterflies, that are not actually dangerous to crops.

2. It sparks concerns on changing the field of agriculture.
The process of making GMOs includes adding new genetic material into an organism’s genome. In agricultural ecology, this means introducing new genes in the genome of crops like corn. Research on the effects of cultivation of GM crops in a large scale has sparked various concerns, specifically those ideas on ecosystems with GMO strains. As proven by certain studies, GMO strains have the potential to change agriculture.

3. It can damage the environment. 
Genetically modified crops can cause a threat to the environment due to the fact that they are not a natural way to plant and cultivate plants.

4. It causes unwanted residual effects.
A genetically modified plant can leave unwanted residual substances that can remain in the soil for extended periods of time. Agricultural regulators were alerted by research that strains from GM crops would remain in the soil for years after the crops were removed. Its data even reported that despite the absence of these plants, the strain persisted for up to more than 5 years.

5. It can create more weeds.
Take note that engineered crops can act as mediators in transferring genes to wild plants, which can create more weeds. To keep these new weeds under control, scientists then invented new herbicides that were not necessary for non-GMO weeds. These chemicals are also toxic to various mammals and amphibians, who are feeding on GMO crops. Tests even show that the uptake of these herbicides also has toxic consequences on aquatic ecosystems.

6. It threatens crop diversity.
There is opposition to introducing GM genes on genetic diversity because these genes can spread to other organic farm crops and threaten crop diversity in agriculture. And if crop diversity decreases, it will have a direct impact on our entire ecosystem and would affect the population dynamics of other organisms. The chance that a single genetically modified crop strain could pollinate an already existing non-GM crop is unlikely and unpredictable, and there are many conditions that must be met for cross pollination to occur. However, when a large scale plantation releases a GM strain during pollination, this risk increases, where the cross pollination to non-GM plants could create a hybrid strain. This means there is a greater possibility of ecological novelty or new artificial strains that are being introduced into the environment that could potentially reduce biodiversity through competition.

7. It has trade issues.
In other countries and regions in the world, there may be problems regarding trade matters, such as tariff and quota.

Testing for GMO Safety

Though it is stated that GMOs are safety, it is still important to be sure. Here are the testing methods used for GMO safety:

Using Bioluminescent Signals
This uses whole-cell bioreporters to determine toxicity or other damaging conditions in the environment. These work by giving off fluorescent or bioluminescent signals, but are poorly tested in the environment. If found effective outside of the laboratory, these bioreporters would be an excellent way to test aquatic environments for the adverse effects brought about by GMOs.

Looking at Genes and Their Function in the Environment
According to GMO experts, it is important to focus on the functionality of a transgene with regards to physiological and ecological relations. The risks to be assessed include horizontal gene transfer, vertical gene transfer, persistence, hybridization, effects of food chains on ecosystems and alterations in biodiversity, and indirect effects (agricultural risks).

In conclusion, genetically modified organisms or GMOs are undeniably an excellent solution in case you want to find methods and ways to saving on your food. They are a very effective means of providing the food for the people. But before you apply this agricultural method, it is important to study its advantages and disadvantages. This will help you determine if they are the right option to get the right profit. Make sure you weigh things up before you decide.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.