The topic of genetically modifying crops, which involve changing their basic DNA through genetic engineering, is a controversial one. Some point to the benefits of such crops and suggest that this technology could solve all sorts of food problems if used properly. Others argue that they're rife with risk. GM crops have a number of advantages and disadvantages.
Genetically modified foods produce higher crop yields, and so some have proposed it as a solution to solving hunger in developing countries. Also, although the seeds cost more up front, the yield is so great that such crops are cheaper to produce in the long run.
Reduced Need for Pesticides
Farmers do not need to use as much pesticides and herbicides on the crops, thereby reducing harm to the environment. They also decrease the amount of manpower needed to grow the crops.
Better Food Quality
The food quality is better. Genetic engineers can cause a fruit or vegetable to stay fresher for longer, extending its shelf life. They can also be engineered to withstand years of drought or other weather extremes while still providing a good crop yield. Engineers can also add essential vitamins to the food that are lacking.
Greater Allergy Risk
Allergies present a risk in genetically modifying foods. If engineers take a gene from one food and use it in another, it could trigger an allergy in the person who is allergic to the first food and didn't realize it was in the second as well. Mixing genes across species has the potential to create new allergens as well.
Destabilization of Ecosystem
Genetically modifying foods could harm other organisms and upset the balance in the ecosystem. If engineers eliminate a pest from the crop, it could remove a food source for an animal. The GM crops could also be toxic for organisms.
Creation of New Diseases
Some modification involves bacteria and viruses, so some people worry that this engineering could create new diseases. Also, pests could absorb the gene in the genetically modified crop and become resistant to sprays and other means of eliminating them.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
The Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Roses
The Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Roses. All organisms have DNA, which stores instructions for cell division to determine how an organism behaves....
Advantages and Disadvantages of Technology in Education
Technology has revolutionized the classroom but is not without its disadvantages--not in its use, but in what its use replaces. Many classrooms...
The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Monoculture
A monoculture is the raising of only one crop or product without using the land for other purposes, such as generally occurs...
Advantages & Disadvantages of Cloning Crop Plants in Tissue Culture
Scientists and agribusinesses can propagate plants by cloning them in tissue culture. This type of asexual propagation is also called micropropagation ...
Advantages and Disadvantages of Buffer Stocks
Buffer stocks are only possible when agricultural production is good. field of future crop image by vadiko from Fotolia.com
The Three Trophic Levels in the Ecosystem
Trophic levels require a balance in nature. nature image by Dmitriy Aydreev from Fotolia.com
The Advantages & Disadvantages of Visual Basic
The Advantages & Disadvantages of Visual Basic. Visual Basic is Microsoft's proprietary programming language. Because it is a Microsoft product, it is...
Advantages & Disadvantages of Food Packaging
Food and drink products are packaged and sold in glass, plastic, aluminum and paper. Each of these materials has advantages and disadvantages...
Advantages & Disadvantages of Greenhouse Farming
Greenhouses give farmers the advantage of growing crops that are not suited to the growing region in which they live. Although greenhouses...
List of Foods That Are Genetically Engineered
Genetically modified (GM) foods are the result of genetic engineering that changes the crops' DNA. Scientists use genetic engineering to produce crops...