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List the arguments 'for' and 'against' GM (genetically-modified) crops?

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The arguments for and against GM crops are as follows:

In favor:

  • They help produce cheaper food, quicker
  • They could be manipulated to have less calories, less fat, and sometimes more nutrition
  • They can be mass produced to save on man labor
  • The more it is made the less people would have to pay for them.
  • Foods that are hard to grow, or harvest, will be readily available.

The arguments against could be as follows:

  • GM foods might affect pollination as bees and other animals which depend on regular, native crops for their own survival.
  • GM crops may be altered, but the alterations may not mix with people. What if, in the process of changing part of the crop humans begin to develop new allergies?
  • Manlabor might be precisely what we need in times when the economy is not doing well- GM crops will make machines take the place of humans.
  • GM crops might be felt to be something like playing God with what was already made well. Some might feel a breach with morality, or even with nature itself.
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The major argument for genetically modified foods is that through modification it becomes possible to grow suoer-sized varieties of certain foods as well as to grow those foods in areas that otherwise would not be able to produce them because of challenges from environmental factors. Genetically modified foods can also be created to offer more nutrients in smaller portions. All of these factors are critically important when we consider the degree to which starvation affects a large portion of our planet. Creating large quantities of nutrient rich food easily is something that scientists see as a potential answer to world hunger.

On the negative side, however, we don;t really know what genetically modifying food products is doing to our bodies when we consume them or to the environment itself. It;s like the butterfly effect - what we do to one thing may have ramifications that are felt thousands of miles away or a century later. Genetically modified foods seem safe NOW but we don;t know what effects they might produce later on down the road - babies with birth defects, land that is no longer able to support intended growth, unintentional cross pollination that destroys existing plant life. The list of negatives is as long, of not longer, than the positives. However, as with any growing science, it comes down to whether or not it seems safe enough to be worth the risk of some potentially negative outcome that we have no way of predicting.

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Well, one reason for genetically altered crops is that they may be able to grow in harsh conditions--for instance, hydroponic plants don't need soil, other genetically altered crops don't need as much water, or can grow in shady areas instead of full sun.  This would help these plants grow in parts of the country which may not be conducive to crop growing.  Some genetically altered crops may not even need the space that it takes to grow massive crops. 

However, genetically altered plants may cause allergies or have other side effects for those who eat them.  They may not be as nutritious as the original plants.  Most altered plants do not produce seeds that will grow plants the next season.

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The major arguments in favor of genetically modified crops are that they offer the potential of increased yields while reducing the amount of chemical pesticides and herbicides needed.  For example, some GM crops are "Roundup ready" so that they can be sprayed with a common herbicide which will then kill only the weeds and leave the desired crops alive.

The major negative is that many people see them as excessively risky.  For example, studies show that there are weeds that are coming to be more resisant to the chemicals.  Some people also think that the modified genes will transfer to other species.

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