For the past 30 years now
For the past 30 years now, humans have been genetically modifying crops to better suit human needs. This method is one of many methods used by people to produce better crops for our consumption, but is genetic modification of crops really better than older more traditional methods like selective breeding? Yes. While GM crops do have advantages and disadvantages the pros far outweigh the cons in this case. That is what this report is about, genetic modification of crops is the future, this will be elaborated more below.
To first understand why gm crops are better than selectively bred crop an understanding of just what GM crops are must be established. GM or genetically modified crops are plants that have had their DNA tampered with in order to improve them in some way. This is done by adding in the genes from a foreign plant to add a favourable characteristic to the plant being modified. This process can result in numerous positive outcomes including, increased shelf life as gm crops have genes of other plants, the crop may have had the genes of a longer lasting plant placed within, GM crops can be tailor made to suit the needs of people, through the gm process in crops, allergens can be removed from crop to produce an allergy free crop for safer consumption and lastly the genetic modification of crops can safe a plant species from extinction, as plants may become vulnerable to something such as a disease or maybe a sudden change in climate and they can’t adapt, Genetic engineering can save these plants as it add the genes of a more resilient plant to save the endangered one REEFRENCES. An example of this was in Hawaii where in the 1950’s where the Hawaiian papaya industry was struck with a virus called the ringspot virus however it wasn’t until the 1990s when the virus started to become a significant problem as it had now affected every papaya plantation within the islands. The ringspot virus is a virus that affects the papaya fruit by causing it to become covered in blisters and drains the leaves of the plant causing it to turn into a withered dehydrated plant that will eventually die. In 1992 field tests were conducted with a GM papaya that was resistant to the ringspot virus, these tests were successful and in 1992 Hawaii authorised the production of the plant. 10 years after the GM papaya was first grown commercially it accounts for more than 90% of papaya today. While there aren’t really any confirmed extreme disadvantages with gm crops there are a few they are being studied, in an article posted by the (CDC, 2013) it states that nearly two million people every year in the united states are infected with antibiotic resistant germs, with at least 23,000 dying as a result. Another article written by (Treacy Colbert, 2016) based on the CDC’s information states that “scientists often modify seeds using antibiotic resistant genes, some people wonder if there’s a link between these gm foods and the rising rates of antibiotic resistant bacteria” the article does point out that to quote “NO studies have confirmed this claim, more research is needed”. So, no link has been found antibiotic resistant germs and gm foods and this is the same for most other disadvantages, meaning that there really aren’t any confirmed extreme disadvantages to gm crop. This implies that gm crops are far more advantageous then they disadvantageous.
On the other hand, there is crops that have been selectively bred. These crops have been bred by only allowing a crop with desirable traits to breed, thus creating a better crop for human consumption. Unlike Genetic engineering there are no added or changes genes when it comes to selective breeding, it relies mostly on chance, that a plant with desirable traits comes along so it can be saved and breaded. There are problems with this however, (Edward Zehtab, 2017) states, “selective breeding often requires inbreeding of animals and plants. This decreases genetic variety in the gene pool”. This would mean that without genetic variability the organism becomes for susceptible to diseases and won’t be resilient enough to cope with change. Whereas with genetic engineering, genes from another plant can be added increasing genetic variability. (Rebecca Crackett, 2013) says “it can cause health problems e.g. dairy cows often have short life expectancies because of the extra strain making and carrying around loads of milk” this implies that due to selective breeding, organisms may have unintended health problems that shorten life spans and cause other diseases. With Genetic engineering however, this problem could be avoided by adding the genes of a stronger organism to compensate for the heavier body. This could apply to plants as well, if a crop that has been selectively bred for its large produce yield over time this plants yield may become too heavy for it to support, causing it to fall below other plants not allowing it to get enough sunlight. With GM crops however, there is room for customisation, the genes from a high yield crop may be combined with a stronger plant to create a genetically superior crop. With gm crops there is choice about what finished product looks like and tastes like, which is what selective breeding lacks, first a plant with desirable traits must grow, then you need to keep the plant reproducing for more crops and if you want to modify the crop in some way you will need to find another crop the selectively bred crop can cross pollinate with and hope that you get a better plant. Selective breeding just falls to chance and hoping that you get the right crop to grow unlike gm crops where you have choice.
GM crops are starting to grow everywhere, with large amounts of crops today being genetically modified, with corn being the number one gm crop. In an article posted by (OCCUPYTHEORY, 2015) it states that “corn that has been modified genetically is much less susceptible to disease and those types of unexpected issues”. This indicates that gm corn has been altered in such a way that makes them immune to some diseases by crossing the genes of a plant that is already immune to such disease with another causing the modified crop to become immune to certain diseases. With selectively bred corn however the process is much longer and has less variety as, desirable corn needs to be found first, then it needs to reproduce and this process could take years. The article goes on “When corn is genetically modified, this allows the parties who are responsible to alter the food in a positive way, by adding extra nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Whereas with Artificially selected crops, are stuck with the health benefits it has unless it cross pollinates with a compatible plant. With the advantages that gm corn has over selectively bred corn it is easy to see why so many people are genetically modifying crops.
For the above reasons artificially selected crops simply cannot compare to GM crops, while GM crops have their unconfirmed health disadvantages the advantages far outweigh them, which is unlike selectively bred crops which have too many flaws to produce superior crop meaning that the decisive winner of the GM crops vs selectively bred crops is the former as GM crops simply have too many advantages over the latter for them not to produce the better crop.