ADVANTAGES OF BIOTECHNOLOGY
Imagine walking into you neighborhood grocery store. The shelves are stocked with every conceivable sort of food that you could ever want. First on your grocery list is a loaf of wheat bread so you go and pick that up. You stop by the dairy section next and pick up a gallon of milk. The last stop is the produce section. You stop a moment to take in the array of bright colors of all the fresh fruits and vegetables. You begin looking over the tomatoes and select a bag that is labeled "Grown Hydroponically." Next, you grab a head of iceberg lettuce and to top it off you grab a few carrots.
As you exit the store with your purchases, you head home, happy with the availability of high quality, reasonably priced products. But not a thought about how the food was produced or how safe the food is crosses your mind. Why? Because you know that America's food supply is the highest quality and safest in the world. But how is America able to continually produce these products in such a manner? In the past 30 years the American agriculture industry has made leaps and bounds towards producing safe, high quality products. But as the world's population grows, so does the demand for food. America, as well as other countries, is using biotechnology to help them keep up with the growing demand for food while maintaining the same standards of quality. Biotechnology is also beneficial to the environment, the agriculture industry and human welfare.
Critics have long complained about the downsides to biotechnology. They claim that it is a hindrance to the natural environment. For example, as Al Gore discussed in his book Earth in the Balance, genetically altering the seeds to produce higher yielding, more disease resistant plants, we may be ruining the diversity of the natural state of seeds by destroying the world's domestication hearths (128). However, biotechnology has many advantages, which are not addressed by these critics. The Department of State website states, Biotechnology helps the environment. By allowing farmers to reduce the use of herbicides and pesticides, the first generation of biotechnology products is helping to reduce herbicide and pesticide use, and future products are expected to yield more environmental benefits. Reduced herbicide and pesticide use means a smaller risk of toxic contamination of both surface and groundwater. In addition, herbicides used in conjunction with genetically engineered plants are often safer for the environment than the herbicides they replace. Bioengineered crops also may reduce the need for farming practices, such as tillage, that results in soil loss. It is clear that biotechnology benefits the environment, especially when compared with the alternative pesticides and contaminants. By eliminating these contaminants, it improves the water supply and reduces soil loss and erosion. Through the...