Scientists have been changing genomes of plants and animals by integrating new genes from a different species through genetic engineering, creating a genetically modified organism (GMO). Consumers in America have been eating GMOs since 1996, when they went on the market. There are benefits to genetically modifying crop plants, as it improves the crop quality and increases yield, affecting the economy and developing countries. But there are also negative effects from GMOs. Consumption of GMOs has various health effects on both body systems of animals and humans. GMOs also affect the environment, ecosystems and other animal species. The cons outweigh the pros in the case of GMOs.
According to scientists, genetically engineering crops contributes to their quality. Crops that have been genetically modified to have a particular trait can decrease the amount of herbicides needed for growing that crop. Additionally, genetically modified (GM) crops can help third world countries, where malnutrition is common. For example, to help diminish nutrient deficiencies in developing countries, “plans were underway to develop a golden rice that also has increased iron content”(Whitman 2). In addition, GM crops can be modified to be able to “withstand the environmental challenges of drought, disease, and insect infestation” (Swenson 1). Growing GM crops can also result in fruits and vegetables that stay fresh for a prolonged period of time and taste better.
GM crops also benefit the economy and assist in feeding more people. While we struggle with feeding our population, “The population will continue to grow” (Calandrelli 1) For instance, genetic engineering in agriculture can minimize the cost of producing food. Thus, GMO’s in crops can result in “more crop per drop” (Calandrelli 1). Subsequently, farmers can spend a smaller amount of money to produce more food to meet the world’s increasing demands. GM crops can save lives by helping feed people in developing countries and avoid starvation and malnutrition.
However, the way GMO’s are created disrupts the organism’s DNA. For one thing, “genetic engineering artificially combines genes from different species and forcibly inserts them into unknown and random locations on the host genome” (The Good, Bad and Ugly about GMOs 3). Because the organism’s genome is changed, natural genes may be erased or turned on or off. This process can create mutations in “hundreds or thousands of locations throughout the plant’s DNA”(Smith 1). This can be harmful if the production of toxins or allergens in an organism increases and if a dormant virus is switched on.
Overall, animals fed Bt crops that are genetically modified have suffered from disease, sterility, and have died. In India, “thousands of sheep buffalo, and goats… died after grazing on Bt cotton plants”(GMO Dangers 1). In North America, farmers have reported that after feeding their pigs GM corn, the pigs had low conception rates, became sterile, or had false...