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What are the pros and cons of genetically engineered crops?

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doribelle | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 24, 2010 at 10:34 AM via web

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What are the pros and cons of genetically engineered crops?

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted April 24, 2010 at 11:02 AM (Answer #1)

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The biggest advantage of genetically modified crops are that these are developed to provide specific benefits like presence of some desired characteristics in the output produces, greater yield, reduced growing cycle time. ability to survive and grow well in adverse soil, water and other climatic condition. All these characteristics lead to reduction in cost of growing the crops and increase in realization from sale of the products.

However there are some disadvantages are also associated with genetically modified crops. The biggest negative point is that the products of genetically modified are not tested that thoroughly, as a result these products may cause many unforeseen health hazard using such products or even coming in contact with them. Similarly the genetically modified crops themselves may pose unexpected dangers to other crops grown in the same area. Foe example these crops may be more vulnerable to certain kind of pests and diseases causing their rapid spread.

Another disadvantage of genetically modified crops is due to the commercial practices adopted by manufacturers of some marketers of seeds of such crops. They engage in practices like developing varieties of crops that do nor produce seeds. As a result farmers are made totally dependent on monopoly of the seed supplier. In the long run, such growth of monopolistic power in hand of a few is not good for any economy.

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kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 24, 2010 at 10:48 AM (Answer #2)

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One of the cons has been the incredible ability of a small group of companies to take over the rights to so much of the world's seeds.  If you look at the news, there are currently those who would like to bring anti-trust suits against companies like Monsanto, but they are so powerful and so large, that it will be difficult to do any great harm.  If you watch Food Inc. you can see some of the problems with genetically modified crops growing next to those that haven't been.  If the new seeds or plants spread into the field that had regular seed, the company that owns the seeds can actually claim the crop on the land which was originally planted with normal seeds as their own.

These crops also tend to encourage the growth of all kinds of resistant pests requiring further modification and further use of different pesticides, etc., driving up prices for farmers and putting them further in debt to their suppliers, a dangerous situation for them and our food supply.

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besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted April 24, 2010 at 10:50 AM (Answer #3)

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Genetically engineered crops have both pros and cons.

For example, scientists can insert a gene into plants for drought tolerance. If these plants are planted in an area that has a drought, they will be more likely to survive and produce healthy crops. Another pro of genetically engineered crops is pest resistance. Using crops that are genetically modified to resist pests means that less chemical pesticides will be used on them. These kinds of crops can also be modified so that they are resistant to cold weather and disease.

Some cons regarding genetically modified crops are related to the environment. Some people fear that these crops may be harmful to other organisms. In addition, it is feared that pests, such as mosquitoes, will become resistant to these kinds of crops. There are also concerns related to human health such as allergies and other unknown effects.

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