Are GMOs Really A Threat To Our Environment?
By: Sudharsan Gopalakrishnan, Grade 10
Genetic engineering is used in several fields, predominantly modern agriculture. Plants and other organisms that are genetically engineered are known as Genetically Modified Organisms(GMOs), and this is such a trending topic today. GMOs are created by inserting desired genes into the target organism. Thousands of people currently debate whether they are beneficial or harmful to the environment and the society all around us. Countless negative allegations have been made, and some of them are based on concerns of human health as well as our environment. It is said that GMOs could trigger allergic reactions and bring side effects like toxicity, organ damage, or gene transfer. People even reported toxic effects that could have been caused by GMO consumption. And regarding the environment, GMOs might have a large impact on Earth’s biodiversity. Existing species of plants and crops might be overrun by other new GM species.
But, are GMOs really harmful? Just because people reported problems that might have resulted from consuming GMOs and also due to misleading Non-GMO labels in many products in the market, it is not necessarily true that GMOs are harmful. No one really knows their harmful side effects nor there is proper evidence for claiming they are harmful. However, there are already a lot of known facts about GMOs and their positive impact on the environment. The main purpose of GMOs is to feed the growing population. This can be done in several ways, and to begin, let’s talk about Herbicides. Herbicide sprays such as glyphosate were and still are common in the bustling world today. Though being successful “weed killers”, herbicides could also affect the good crops.
The more plants are repeatedly exposed to herbicides, the more their yield and fruit quality reduces. This is one of the main reasons GMOs were created. Herbicide tolerance is the word of the day. Many GMOs are made to be resistant to herbicides to increase crop yield and food quality as opposed to the normal, vulnerable plants. Insect and pest resistance is another advantage. One common example of insect resistance is with the Bt Gene. GMOs made for insect resistance generally use the Bt gene, which can be extracted from a bacterium known as Bacillus Thuringiensis which provides natural insect resistance. This facilitates farmers when planting GMOs as opposed to farming normal organic crops. Furthermore, GMO crops have positively impacted the world by bringing down tillage and fuel use, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. The FDA as well as the USDA even approve that GMOs are safe. GMOs have helped feed millions all around the world. GMOs help preserve soil, conserve usage of water, and are also said to reduce carbon emissions.
And as GMO crops are increasingly accepted by consumers, we are sure to see more positive environmental impacts in the future such as less waste due to new varieties of produce.