5 Advantages of Genetically Engineered Crops

Benefits Associated with GMO Crops

• Reduced Cost of Production

• Decreased Need for Pesticide Spray

• Increased Shelf-Life

• Higher Nutritional Value

• Medical Benefits

While genetically engineered crops have been promoted as a scientific breakthrough in the past few decades, farmers have actually been utilizing a less advanced form of selective farming for thousands of years. Genetic engineering became possible with scientific breakthroughs in genetics and gene-splicing, and these advancements were used to implement selective farming methods at the genetic level.

1. Reduced Cost of Production

Resources For the Future explains GMO crops are cheaper to produce because they drastically reduce the need for fuel, machinery and chemical insecticides. Genetically modified crops are plants that have had desirable traits inserted into their DNA. The direct transfer of genes from the same plant, another plant species or even a completely unrelated species causes the crops to have desirable traits. For instance, corn can be genetically altered to produce a type of protein that is toxic to larval pests but safe for human consumption. This reduced cost of production translates to a lower price for foods at the consumer level.

2. Decreased Need for Pesticide Spray

Certain genes are inserted into crops to protect them from pests, fungi and viruses which drastically reduces the need to spray crops with chemical-laced pesticides. The reduction in pesticide use results in lower costs of production, fewer crops lost to disease and pests, environmental benefits and less toxic foods. Losing fewer crops to pests and viruses means a more predictable and reliable food supply. Genetically modified crops result in less soil erosion and less overall pollution. Farm runoff littered with pesticides and herbicides is a major concern for environmentalists because it often pollutes water sources nearby. Consumers of traditional farming crops frequently get exposed to pesticide residues, but GM crops do not carry this risk.

3. Increased Shelf-Life

Vittana describes how genetic modification utilizes a crop’s natural qualities to extend the shelf life of various foods. Without genetic modification, most foods rely on unhealthy preservatives to remain fresh. The dangers of preservatives are well-known, but they continue to be used often due to the time it takes to transport and distribute food throughout the world. Crops are frequently damaged during transportation, but genetically engineered crops are more durable which makes for easier shipping.

4. Higher Nutritional Value

One of the most discussed advantages of genetically altered crops is the method’s ability to enhance the quality of crops resulting in a higher nutritional content. One of the first GMO crops was dubbed “Golden Rice”. This rice was altered and fortified with Vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency, which impacts 60 percent of rice-eating populations, can lead to infectious diseases, blindness and death. Golden Rice provides developing countries with a cost-effective solution to combating this common condition. The United Nations has recognized that genetically altered crops that have been enhanced in vitamin or mineral content can help fight widespread malnutrition in parts of the world.

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5. Medical Benefits

In many ways, GMO crops are safer and healthier than crops grown using modern-day farming methods. Genetically altered crops don’t need toxic pesticides, they can be fortified with extra vitamins and they remain fresh longer. Healthier crops translate into a healthier population. One type of genetic modification process is called pharming, and it allows certain proteins, vaccines and antibiotics to be inserted into crops. Incredibly, experts have already been successful in creating edible diarrhea vaccinations utilizing potato plants.

Selective farming methods stemming back to antiquity have been revolutionized by utilizing the plant’s genetic coding. There are a number of benefits associated with society moving towards genetically engineered crops, and it’s likely that these types of crops will continue to rise in prominence as they prove their worth over time.