Many questions and concerns have arisen with the new found plant breeding technology termed genetic modification or commonly referred to as GMO. Concerns and questions about long term effects and societal good have caused slowed acceptance and rigorous testing of this new technology. Although slowly being adapted, many benefits are already being realized by today’s society.
GMOs are protecting the environment.
Discoveries in biotechnology have allowed some crops to have their own protection against insects and disease and, therefore, can be grown using less crop protection chemicals. For example, cotton and corn now can resist some destructive insects on their own. This allows farmers to choose the best combination of tools to control harmful pests and diseases. Biotechnology is providing opportunities to decrease soil erosion and greenhouse gas emissions through farming practices that protect the environment. Some of these new crops require less tilling, helping to preserve precious topsoil, use less fuel and reduce farm run-off into streams and rivers. They are also playing a part in feeding a growing population. According to statistics from the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the world population will likely increase to approximately nine billion by 2050. The fact is that with more people, we will need to provide more food. At the same time, there is little remaining land for farming, without destroying valuable rainforest and wetland habitats. World hunger is a complex issue that biotechnology can play a part in helping. Thanks to continued improvements in agriculture and food production, and to developments in food biotechnology, we’ll be able to grow more food and better food on land already being farmed.
More nutritious foods are also becoming available as a result of GMOs. Now and in the near future biotechnology products provide potential food quality improvements. Some biotech foods may help to prevent heart disease and cancer by delivering more of vitamins C and E. Research is under way on “golden rice,” which would combat Vitamin A deficiency in developing nations by delivering more beta-carotene and iron. Other biotech foods under development, such as a potato that absorbs less oil, may help to prevent heart disease by cutting back on fatty acids. Biotechnology will improve nutrition in other ways, such as by producing allergy-free peanuts and rice. Researchers are even working on a banana that could deliver vaccines against Hepatitis B and other deadly diseases.