GM Crops Pros And Cons

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Crossing certain crops to induce certain traits in offspring is not a new process. In fact, farmers around the world have used conventional breeding practices such as artificial selection to produce higher-yielding crops for centuries. Those practices were not frowned upon, but instead considered necessary if agriculture was to continue to support the world’s growing population. Today, we face a similar problem. The Earth’s population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, and world agricultural production needs to rise 50% to accommodate that growth (Royal Society)1. Fortunately, advances in biotechnology have allowed humans to manipulate the genetic material of crops to create more productive variants. However, these genetically engineered …show more content…
Here, farmers and biologists who argue in favor of GM crops cite increased yields and a reduced agricultural footprint on the environment as the main reasons to adopt the technology. They reason that the benefits to farm income and the environment directly outweigh any potential negative impacts, and thus are worth the investment. Resting on this belief, U.S. farmers have planted significant amounts of GM corn, soybean, and cotton (Fernandez Cornejo)9. The results on productivity have been promising. For example, planting Bt corn, rather than conventional corn, has increased yields from 12.5 to 26 bushels per acre8. This increased yield will stabilize farm incomes and likely increase food production. From an economic perspective this increased supply will keep prices low and affordable around the country. Thus, to an average consumer like myself, the proliferation of GM crops is a welcomed development. Furthermore, the rapid spread of GM crops in the United States has created long-term agricultural sustainability. Insecticides, which regularly have negative spillover effects, are no longer needed with pest resistant crops. Now farmers can not only decrease expenditures on insecticides and increase their incomes, but also improve the quality of nearby water supplies. Farmers can now also practice conservation tillage farming – …show more content…
As our world becomes more and more complex, trust becomes a substitute for information and knowledge. However, because of the food safety scandals in the 1990’s, many Europeans are distrustful of regulators’ ability to control the proliferation of GM crops11. Thus, citizens are opposed to GM crops altogether. I believe that a look across the Atlantic Ocean could provide some solutions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires farms to maintain refuge requirements –sufficient areas of non-GM crops near GM crop fields – to slow the evolution of resistance in pest populations9. Monitoring data has confirmed that this requirement has indeed slowed the development of resistance9. European regulators could use a combination of refuge requirements and educational campaigns to ensure the public that the spread of GM crops will be carefully controlled. This will allow farmers across the continent to enjoy increased productivity, pest resistance, and stable incomes, without having to compromise their environment. Creating a unified opinion on GM crops will allow us to feed millions of people who go hungry each

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