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GMO in Agricultural Practices

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GMOs have been around since the 1990s, since their presents they have increased the crop yields, but they have also impacted the land that they occupied. An increase in GMO uses may lead to a situation resembling the Irish potato famine of the 1840s. The Irish potato famine was when a fungus had infected a large portion of the potato species. This caused a famine because the Irish relied on the potatoes as their main source of food and they were relying on a low diversity of a potato species. Having crops being resistant to roundup, a common herbicide, allowed weeds to be introduced to the chemicals causing them to become superweeds.

Superweeds are weeds that have a resistance gene to the chemicals in a herbicide. GMO use by large-scale farmers induces loss of biodiversity, rise in herbicide and pesticide resistant organisms, increased chance of diseased plants, contaminated land and fields, and create patents and possible lawsuits that affect small farmers. Biodiversity- Biodiversity is having a variety of life in a certain area or ecosystem. Genetically modifying our crops means lowering our biodiversity by not allowing the plants to pollinate freely to get new genetic information, making the plant more susceptible to diseases and by doing so, possibly causing another “potato famine”. Found in an article, Current Knowledge of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Organisms on Biodiversity and Human Health, “[c]onventional7 agricultural practices is the extensive cultivation of uniform, high yielding crop varieties that has led to the replacement and loss of traditional crop varieties from agroecosystems; currently, at least 1,350 varieties face extinction, with an average of two breeds being lost each week.“ This shows that without GMO crops there is already a loss in biodiversity.

Modifying plants is decreasing biodiversity. Biodiversity helps individuals species by allowing them to adapt to changing conditions, insects, infections and adjust to changing environments such as droughts and floods. Having biodiversity would increase sustainability for farmers because it would make for healthier plants. Traits are not made up by one gene, They are a combination of genes, for example, “drought tolerance is complex, driven by several genes. Genetic engineering generally targets one gene at a time. Tools like traditional breeding techniques and seed banks, which preserve the genetic diversity of seeds, are proving more effective at developing drought-tolerant crops.”

Organic farming is the practice of farming without using chemicals such as pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics and growth hormones. Organic farming would create healthier plants because they increase soil nutrients by using a mixture of crops on their farm, using organic fertilizers and having a wide variety of gene in their crops. “Organic agriculture often uses a mixture of crops to increase diversity; this can also contribute to Integrated Pest Management practices.“ Using a mixture of crops on one field will help increase the biodiversity in the environment surrounding the fields. This improves the health of the overall crop species.

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