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Is The Genetic Modification Of Plants A Benefit For Detriment?

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In recent years, there has been a colossal decrease in food security, quality and availability. This has resulted in the employment of science and technology, to improve food security, quality and availability by means of genetic modification. There are lots of controversies surrounding the topic of genetic modification and I will be providing an argument for and against the use of genetic modification in plants. But firstly, what are genetically modified organisms (GMOs)? “Genetically modified organisms can be defined as organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination”(Q&A: genetically modified food, 2020)

Genetic modification of plants have heaps of benefits, some of which include: increased nutritional value of crops, I personally think that this is probably the biggest benefit as malnutrition is one of the biggest problems third world countries face. Crops can be genetically modified to be more nutritional, it could save lives as deficiencies brought about by insufficient nutrients could be diminished. An advantage that helps sustain the environment is phytoremediation. Phytoremediation can eradicate a number of global environmental pollution issues by planting trees and plants that “have been genetically engineered to clean up heavy metal pollution from contaminated soil.”(Advantages And Disadvantages Of Genetically Modified Organisms Biology Essay, 2020)

Genetic modification of plants can lead to disease resistance. This is an advantage as plants and crops are susceptible to spoilage by microbes such as viruses, bacteria and fungi. Plants and crops can develop drought tolerance through the use of genetic modification. Drought tolerance enables plants to grow in inhospitable areas, which means that more land can be utilized for housing and health care centres.

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Crop losses due to pests can be detrimental to farmers in the form of financial loss and could also lead to starvation in third world countries. Pesticides are used to try and curb this problem, but pesticides can potentially be harmful to the health of consumers and the environment. “Growing genetically modified foods such as B.t. corn can help eliminate the application of chemical pesticides and reduce the cost of bringing a crop to market.” (Advantages And Disadvantages Of Genetically Modified Organisms Biology Essay, 2020)

Genetic modification has its downs too. GMO plants can contaminate the gene pools of non-GMO plants. GMO plants use the method of cross-pollination, which means that their seeds travel. “Self-propagating GMO pollution will outlast the effects of global warming and nuclear waste.” (Smith, 2020). This could have a detrimental impact on the health of future generations. GMO contamination has also caused major economic losses for the non-GMO farming industry since it is a huge struggle to produce organic plants and crops.GMO crops can lead to an increase in allergens and allergic reactions as consumers could have an allergy to a particular plant in its modified state while on the other hand, they might not have an allergy to the plant in its natural state, and vice versa. “Genetically modified seeds are a patented product, and in order to purchase the seeds customers must sign an agreement for use with the seed manufacturer”. (Advantages And Disadvantages Of Genetically Modified Organisms Biology Essay, 2020). The demand for GM seeds will spread across the world and this puts food supply and safety at great risks since the concern around these topics will continue to escalate.

Reduced biodiversity is a disadvantage of genetic engineering. When it comes to populations of species, genetic diversity and variety is an exceptionally good thing, and this is because disease exists. If a particular crop disease breaks out, only the portion of the population with a susceptibility to that disease will die out. As more genetically engineered crops are created, the gene pools of these species, as well as the wild species become reduced. This is a bad thing as pests and diseases can quickly develop resistance to the defences of the GMO crops and this could lead to a nationwide or even worldwide wipeout of an entire harvest.

In conclusion, the genetic modification of plants has lots of advantages, but this comes with ethical issues as well. GMOs hold the potential to end world hunger but also cause an even bigger food supply and availability problem due to its potentially detrimental disadvantages. The pros and cons of the genetic modification do not outweigh each either, and more research and scientific evidence is needed to declare GMOs as a benefit or a detriment.

References

  1. Conserve Energy Future. 2020. Pros And Cons Of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). [Online] Available at: https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/pros-cons-gmos.php [Accessed 25 August 2020].
  2. Labmate Online. 2014. The Pros And Cons Of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). [Online] Available at: https://www.labmate-online.com/news/news-and-views/5/breaking-news/the-pros-and-cons-of-genetically-modified-organisms-gmos/31400 [Accessed 25 August 2020].
  3. Pros and cons of GMO foods: Health and environment. 2020. Pros and cons of GMO foods: Health and environment. [Online] Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324576#cons [Accessed 25 August 2020].
  4. Smith, J., 2020. 10 Reasons To Avoid GMOs | Institute For Responsible Technology. [online] Institute for Responsible Technology. Available at: https://www.responsibletechnology.org/for-parents/parents-tool-kit/10-reasons-to-avoid-gmos/ [Accessed 25 August 2020].
  5. UKEssays.com. 2020. Advantages And Disadvantages Of Genetically Modified Organisms Biology Essay. [online] Available at: https://www.ukessays.com/essays/biology/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-genetically-modified-organisms-biology-essay.php [Accessed 25 August 2020].
  6. World Health Organization. 2020. Q&A: Genetically Modified Food. [Online] Available at: https://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/food-technology/faq-genetically-modified-food/en/ [Accessed 25 August 2020].

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Is The Genetic Modification Of Plants A Benefit For Detriment? (2022, February 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 5, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/is-the-genetic-modification-of-plants-a-benefit-for-detriment/
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Is The Genetic Modification Of Plants A Benefit For Detriment? [Internet] Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 21 [cited 2022 Dec 5]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/is-the-genetic-modification-of-plants-a-benefit-for-detriment/
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