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The Benefits And Consequences Of Genetically Modified Organisms

976 words - 4 pages

In the past 20 years, genetically modified foods have become more popular due to their health benefits and higher growing rates. Genetically modified organisms have many advantages but can sometimes have negative effects on the environment.
Genetic engineering is used by scientists to enhance qualities in crops that are grown by farmers. Some of the qualities that scientists engineer these crops for are taste, nutrition level, and shelf-life. The technique that scientists use to increase nutrient levels is called nutritional enhancement. For example, one case of nutritional enhancement would be the engineering of a type of rice known as golden rice. Better Health Channel says, "GM golden rice is a white rice crop modified by the insertion of the vitamin A gene from a daffodil plant"(Genetically 8). In many countries, people's diets consist of mainly rice. While white rice is rich in other nutrients, it is a poor source of vitamin A. Therefore, these people need a more readily available source of vitamin A. In 2010, the World Health Organization reported that, “Currently, an estimated 250 million preschool children in the world have vitamin A deficiency” (Rotondi 1).
According to the USDA, "...biotech corn accounted for 90 percent of corn acreage in 2013"(Fernandez 5). Farmers grow these crops over traditional crops for many reasons. The most apparent reason for the growth of genetically modified crops is the higher yield rate of these plants. Farmers not only grow these plants in order to make a larger profit at the end of the growing season, but also because these farmers have the whole world depending on them for food. Furthermore, according to the ISAAA (International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications), "…US$98.2 billion were generated globally by biotech crops during the sixteen year period 1996 to 2011"(ISAAA 18). Farmers are becoming few and far between in the United States due to the high risk of failure in the career. But the farmers that are left know that they cannot feed our hungry nation by growing regular crops due to the risk of die off that can occur from insects and other pests invading their crops. In addition, Monsanto stated that "Approximately 95 percent of the soybeans and 75 percent of the corn in the United States are GM" (Do 12). Some crops, known as Roundup Ready, are engineered to be resistant to pesticides. Due to this, Roundup Ready crops are easier to maintain. Also, this makes it easier on farmers to spray pesticides without the worry of killing the crop. A factor to consider in the growth of most crops is the fertility of the soil. Fields that once produced high yields with heirloom varieties can no longer produce those yields. This is due to the land being stripped of its topsoil and nutrients. Without the use of strong chemical fertilizers these fields can no longer be used to produce crops. The danger in using chemical fertilizers on fields is that these fertilizers can cause pollution of...

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