If you are running a farm, wherein crops and livestock are your primary source of income, then it is highly important for you to find the best way to boost your efficiency. Take note that natural or organic farming does not always ensure best results, but there is one very good agricultural method for higher production—selective breeding.
Selective breeding is used to hereditarily encourage beneficial characteristics on both animals and plants. Basically, it is performed through controlled breeding. But like any other agricultural method (though they are supposedly designed to offer advantages for society), it also has its own set of disadvantages. If you are thinking of applying selective breeding into your crops and livestock, weigh them down to come up with a decision whether it is a great option for you.
List of Advantages of Selective Breeding
1. It requires no company patent.
Any person who works in agriculture can start selective breeding whenever he wants. It is a way for him to naturally earn more income each year as he can breed specific characteristics into animals and plants to make them produce more over generations in the future, which is good for business. And since it is free, he just needs to be well-equipped and knowledgeable of the process to get the best outcome.
2. It allows for higher profit.
Selective breeding allows the encouragement of plant and animal characteristics that are more beneficial to farmers. For example, if they have selectively bred cows, these livestock can produce more milk than those typically bred, and the gene can be passed on to their offspring. When the method is used on crops, they will also grow more than the typical crops. Promoting these advantages is surely going to increase the market value of their products. For farmers who are in for a big business, selective breeding is definitely a perfect option for them.
3. It can create new varieties of good crops.
With this farming method, people will be able to produce higher amounts of crops. They can also produce plants with higher resistance to pests and diseases, not to mention the shorter period of time for harvest.
4. It does not have any issue of safety.
Unlike the process of creating genetically modified (GMO) crops, selective breeding allows for the natural evolutionary process to take place. It just happens at an accelerated rate as we manipulate it. However, the DNA sequences are not being tampered to create changes, such as genetic modifications.
5. It helps eliminate diseases.
One big advantage of selective breeding is its capability to eliminate animal and plant diseases. Studies revealed that identifying and pre-screening particular diseases allows farmers to control them. Thus, sooner or later, genetic diseases in plants and animals in the future will be eliminated.
6. It influences the production of food coming from plants in a positive way.
In plants, this agricultural method has the potential to positively influence the production of food around the world, in a way that it improves quality of seed grains and increase protein levels in forage crops. Selective breeding is also beneficial by giving plants the ability to grow on lands that are previously not suitable for farming. This means that farming businessman can get a variety of plants to grow and eventually more food.
7. It can provide a sustainable food chain.
With the projected world population to hit a mark of about 10 billion by 2050, it is more important than ever for world leaders to start planning a food chain system that would allow for the production of sufficient calories globally each year, so that people can be fed effectively, gradually eliminating hunger.
8. It allows for the creation of high-quality products.
Selective breeding has been a comfortable option on farming for many people, as it assures a process that will completely gave them superior types of products that are of high quality.
9. It can produce fitter and stronger animals.
the method of selective breeding can produce fitter and stronger animals that provide higher yields of meat, milk or eggs. For example, some cows have been bred to produce more meat. This should also be good as farmers can produce animals that are better suited to survive in marginal conditions or poor climates, preserving human food supplies and saving life. Moreover, this farming method can protect animals from developing diseases or deformities.
List of Disadvantages of Selective Breeding
1. It can lead to loss of species variety.
The main objective of selective breeding is to create enhanced farm yields or items, which ultimately means that species variety is going to be compromised for the sake of a higher level of productivity and may lead to limited opportunities for the continuance of the evolutionary expansion in the future from the reason that only positive traits would remain.
Usually, this method of farming requires in-breeding of animals and plants, which can be the cause of genetic variety to decrease. And as this would happen, living organisms may express the same vulnerability to certain pathogens. If it happens that a group of animals or plants with the same genetic traits are attacked by a particular pathogen, their entire population would certainly suffer. This is the main reason why meticulous analysis and monitoring are needed in order to assess if selective breeding is risky for certain types of diseases.
2. It does not have control over genetic mutations.
Selective breeding might be able to hasten the good traits of the evolutionary process, but it can do nothing when it comes to the bad traits. The method will not able to control the creation of genes that might be inherited by the offspring. Taking this theory into consideration, error in the process would be evident, which may affect the organism that is undergoing the selective breeding process. Also, there is high possibility that random genetic mutations happen, which may automatically decrease the effectiveness of the crops that are being grown because most mutations do not provide any benefits.
3. It brings about discomfort to animals.
Breeders who are wanting to formulate particular animal traits might accidentally reproduce characteristics that are damaging to animal health. For instance, cows are only able to produce large amounts of milk if they have large udders. So, we can just think that such a product of selective breeding may find it its udders heavy, causing it discomfort.
4. It can create offspring with different traits.
Due to the fact that this farming technique can create offspring that have different traits, the previous or permanent trait they have before undergoing the process would be completely lost.
5. It could create a genetic depression.
As organisms start to become similar genetically, they also start to experience a depression in gene diversity, which can lead to a rise in negative mutations. This phenomenon is proven by evidence seen in human populations, particularly in the Eastern European Jews, Cajun communities of Louisiana and some Old World population in the northeastern US.
6. It poses some environmental risks.
Selectively bred organisms are at risk of some diseases and environmental changes simply because of the same breeding process from which they are a product.
7. It can change the evolution of species.
As previously mentioned, selective breeding would risk changing the evolution of the species. Because humans are breeding different species for a particular trait, this can lead to a risk of losing some of the other genes from the genetic pool, which is altogether very difficult to bring back. Taking crops for example, selective breeding could cause environmental problems in a way that they would have a different requirement for the amount of water they have to consume.
If these plants use more water, other plants around them would dry out, causing them to die and eventually taking away food and shelter for birds and insects. Not only this, but selective breeding would also alters which traits are exhibited in subsequent plant generations by allowing only the plants with desired traits to breed, which would also cause other plants to be extinct.
The science behind selective breeding allows living organisms to be bred selectively, so their best features and characteristics can be sent along to the next generations. It is an active process that is seen in plants and animals today, but is said to be even possible for humans as well. Animals can become leaner and plants can become bigger for the desired outcome of better products along the food chain.
This method is helping make animals healthier, fruits tasting better and vegetables growing bigger. So, it is considered very important, especially by people who are into the agricultural business, to enhancing and increasing the quantity of crops they are going to harvest. Although there are some limitations that come with selective breeding, it is still producing great results. By weighing the advantages and disadvantages listed above, you can come together to find a solution that helps the world with meeting its needs into the future.
So, is it something that is ethical to do? Or, is it a science with natural limitations that should be avoided as much as possible?
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.