GMOs are transgenic organisms carrying foreign genes.
These genes may belong to a virus, bacteria, plants, or even humans.
These foreign genes are meant to improve the genetic structure of transgenic animals for beneficial results.
When the beneficial gene is identified and inserted into the plant, its genomic structure gets changed.
GMO Pros and Cons
There is a lot of research going on GMOs due to the economic advantages involved.
However, they have certain disadvantages worth considering
Pros of GMO
1. Higher yield
- As the world population is increasing every day, it is hard to meet the growing food demand.
- So, GMOs are introduced to increase the yield within the same cropping area. This helps to feed a massive population and also overcome famines.
2. Avoid food shortage
- GMOs are designed to tackle the shortage of food and to produce food varities with better nutrient contents or extra nutrients and minerals that are not naturally present in that particular food item
- The genes responsible for desired minerals, vitamins are inserted to produce genetically modified food.
- This procedure increases the original value just like fortification of iron content in chickpeas.
- Due to this, the poor who cannot afford to use milk or other commodities of iron can meet their iron requirement at a nominal price by consuming fortified chickpea.
3. Increase the shelf life
- GMOs are designed to increase the shelf life of perishable food commodities.
- This genetic modification enables the farmers to avoid postharvest losses due to the enhanced perishability time of particular food items.
- Further, it is much easier to distribute food to far-off places within the country or in other parts of the world thereby raising the economic gains to the state.
4. Minimize resource usage
- GMOs use lesser resources as compared to NON-GMOs.
- So by using genetically modified crops, energy, soil nutrients, water and the capital used can be conserved providin relief to farmers.
5. Tackle drought
- GMOs are designed to tackle drought problems so that the plants grow well in drought conditions or need less water for growth.
- Thus, crop cultivation is possible in the water deficient lands.
6. Insect resistance and Tolerant to pest attacks
- GMO crops are more tolerant of pests, weeds, and other hazardous effects.
- So the capital used in terms of pest control, weeds are conserved providing relief to the farmer.
- Some GMOs produce their own pesticides like Bt corn and Bt cotton.
- These varieties have genes isolated from bacteria that can produce toxins harmful to insects causing massive destruction in particular crops.
- So in this way GMOs conserve plant varieties from extinction and also save the expenses of farmers.
By this process, the beneficial insects needed for pollination can also be saved as plants produce their own toxins, which would be otherwise killed due to the spraying of insecticides.
7. Mature faster
GMOs are designed to mature earlier than the usual time.
- This enables the crop to escape the insect attack of that particular season.
- The crop duration is also decreased so both time and space are saved for the cultivation of another crop which significantly benefits farmers fiscally.
8. Conserve the environment
- GMOs are designed to conserve the environment.
- They have a great effect on the environment as they need lesser farm operations.
- The operations like burning fuel and increasing the content of carbon dioxide due to aerosols can be avoided.
9. Minimize allergies
GMOs are designed to tackle allergies that occur due to some specific proteins.
These allergenic proteins are removed from that particular genomic system, and the product becomes acceptable to consumers.
For example, gluten-free wheat is made by genetic modification.
10. Modulate taste, fragrance and more
GMOs are also designed to attain specific taste, color, aroma, and texture.
This helps create the product acceptable to consumers.
An example of such practice is golden rice. Here the gene from the carrot is isolated and inserted into the rice to impart golden color to it.
Cons of GM
- GMOs are not considered safe for humans, other living as well as the environment.
- Though the early outcomes are beneficial and magical, after-effects can be quite hazardous and drastic.
- In short, GMOs are a short-term solution to a problem with long-term problems.
- GMOs are considered unhealthy for living organisms as they affect the organs, causing gastrointestinal and immune system disorders.
- They also lead to quick aging and infertility, and the toxicity produced by GM crops is found in the blood.
- The new unidentified genes, when becoming a part of the genomic system, can show additive effects with already present genes.
- This leads to the production of the specific proteins in surplus amount and shift the system from normality leading to cancers.
3. Herbicide resistance
- GMOs are designed to escape the effect of herbicides that are used to kill weeds which show competition with the main crop.
- However, with the passage of time, weeds evolve and develop resistance against herbicides.
- Thus more powerful herbicides in greater amounts are necessary which ultimately leads to an extra burden on the farmer’s pocket.
- Moreover, the residual effects of toxic herbicides impart drastic effects to human health and cause various allergies and fatal diseases.
4. Enhance virus
- GMOs are responsible for strengthening various viruses which have hazardous effects on crops.
- For example, in case of Bt cotton a genetically modified crop is susceptible to cotton leaf curl virus whereas the previous Non-GM cotton crop has natural resistance against it.
- This virus is a major cause of decline in cotton production throughout the world.
- GMOs are considered responsible for creating superbugs as plants produce insecticides on their own.
- The bugs also pass through the evolutionary process and change their genomic structure in order to survive.
- Thus, new strains of bugs with more resilience arise.
6. Decrease in biodiversity
- GMOs are supposed to be responsible for decreasing biodiversity.
- Due to the inclusion of GM crops the gene flow occurs to the old natural wild-type contaminating the gene pool.
- Once contaminated, the previous genes required to tackle pidemic breakout are lost.
- Moreover due to monoculture cropping the natural ecosystem gets disturbed as the farming community starts growing particular for more profits.
- Hence due to the demise of other crops, the insects and organisms whose natural habitat are other crops start to demise as well.
7. Affect Non-GMO’s
- Another concern about GMOs is that they pollute the Non-GMOs cropping pattern and contaminate the organic food.
- It is very difficult to limit GMO seed to the area where it is grown and it travels too far off places and does contamination.
8. Lack of freedom for usage
- GMOs are mostly patented and secured by law so the farming community interested to grow GMOs is strictly bound to prevent contamination.
- If the farmer fails to do so, they are subjected to legal trails.
- Further, the farmers are not allowed to grow F1 generation as well.