Genetically Modified organisms, or GMO’s as some may call it, have altered DNA, intended to enhance the plant’s value. Scientists take pieces of desired genes and put them into certain plants, to hopefully have an outcome of an organism with a higher nutritional, cosmetic, and market value. Unlike selective breeding, which can take years to produce a sought after trait or traits, genetically modified plants can produce those traits within a harvest season.
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Genetic modification produces a generally similar product as selective breeding would, just in a more controlled, time reduced setting. The FDA, food and drug administration, controls the standards that are put on any product that is sold and marketed to consumers. The FDA states that any and all genetically modified foods are required to meet the exact same requirements that non-modified foods are expected to meet.
The list of Pro’s for genetically modified organisms greatly exceeds the few that will be discussed here; however, these are the most commonly talked about. Genetically modified plants, like corn, soybeans, and cotton, tend to have a faster growing period. With this faster growing period, harvests keep up with supply and demand. GMO plants also are modified for their nutritional value. When the genes are swapped or replaced, it includes the genes that are connected to the vitamins and minerals that the plant provides the consumer. Modifying the genes of a plant can effect its immunity to pests and weeds. This immunity can lead to higher yields , or the amount of product that is able to be produced in a growing season. These higher yields are related to the success rates of the farmers, causing them to gain more of a profit than before. This raise in profit allows the markets to sell the products for less to the consumers, saving everyone money in the long run. Along with immunity is the reduction of the use of pesticides and herbicides. Pesticides and herbicides have the potential to be harmful to consumers. When they don’t need to be used, or need to be used in much smaller amounts than before, it makes the product more desirable to consumers.
Many of these pro’s tie into each other, including the cost efficiency of GMO’s. When products cost the producer less to grow, it in turn costs the consumers less to purchase those products. When farmers grow normal crops, there is a percentage of these seeds that they had to pay for, but never return product. There is also plants that are destroyed by pests and weeds, which never make it to harvest. Farmers must take the cost of those seeds into account when trying to calculate their expected profit. With GMO crops, there is a much smaller percentage of those failure, resulting in a better yield and better profit for the farmer. As everyone knows, there is always con’s to oppose the pro’s. These con’s, much like the pro’s, aren’t all of them, but the most common. Many dislike GMO’s because they can occasionally produce undesired traits, like mutations and side effects, when the genes of the plant are modified. When scientists modify something genetically, they are usually shooting for specific traits, either interior, like the nutritional value, or exterior, more aesthetically pleasing looks. This difference could alter the actual makeup of the plant, causing a toxic or harmful product to result.
This doesn’t occur often, but consumers feel that the small percentage does not give GMO the credibility it needs to be marketed. Genetically modified plants can effect the wildlife in its surrounding area. Animals or insects that thrive off of the plants can harm the animals, or even kill them. If this happens enough times, that wildlife can become extinct or migrate away from that area. This could cause an upset to that regions ecosystem, effecting everything else around it. Genetic modification can result in less nutritious products as well. Occasionally, when the exterior of a crop is trying to be improved, it hurts the interior. This could cause a decrease in specific vitamins and minerals that consumers eat the product to gain. Allergens and toxins can also be introduced to a plant when the genetics are altered. These allergens and toxins can become more prominent effect or consumers when they hadn’t before because of the genetic modifications. When it comes to taking sides, personally I am for genetically modified plants. I believe that GMO’s are an amazing addition to the agricultural community.
Here in Eastern New Mexico, where I reside, farming and ranching is a large part of the community. Farmers depend on rainfall to grow crops, and when they don’t receive enough it affects the yield, which in turn affects the profit the farmer obtains. Many farmers in the region have turned to GMO crops because of their resilience in drought and their immunity to weeds and pests. Because GMO plants are resistant to many inhibitors, this saves the farmer a large amount of time and money that can be spent on other things, like tractor repairs and their families needs. The market value of GMO crops are generally higher, allowing the farmer a better profit and ability to turn their fields again and again. I personally enjoy eating fruits and vegetables; however, that is not the case for others. When consumers see that produce tastes better than it had before, they are more likely to purchase and consume it. This leads to an overall betterment of the health of the consumer community.
Bio-fuels can also be created with GMO corn. Living in a “oil-field” community, it may not seem like a great idea to introduce bio-fuels. But if we are honest with ourselves, we will see that fossil fuels won’t always be around and that alternatives need to be found for the preservation of those precious fossil fuels. Genetically modified plants can also create a plethora of jobs that this country needs. Putting people to work for something that will better the nation seems like a win-win situation to me. In conclusion, the opinions on GMO and whether they should be continued to be produced will vary, most likely based on region. Since this topic is widely and highly debated, pros and cons will constantly be added and argued until the end of time. Occupants of large cities won’t have the same outlooks and experiences as those who reside in rural farming and ranching communities. If they chose to, farmers could solely produce GMO crops. This would cause consumers to either accept GMO, purchase it, and eat it or they would refuse to buy corn or any other GMO crop again. The opinions on this subject will fluctuate, despite the amount of experiments and testing done, attempting to prove its value,or lack thereof.
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