Genetically Modified Crops

The world population has reached a staggering 7 billion people, and has been predicted to reach 10
billion over the next half a century. (UN News Centre, 2013) The continuously growing population
on Earth presents us with difficulties in supplying sufficient resource to all individuals. Although
we have enough food to sustain the world population, food resource is not evenly spread out
amongst developed and non-developed countries, causing certain communities especially in Central
Africa so suffer severe malnourishment. (Our Food Recipes, 2013) As of now, 870 million people
of our world are already suffering from world hunger, and as time progresses, this number will
simply grow alongside population growth and pose an increasing threat to our society. (World
Hunger Education Service, 2013) In order to solve this issue, genetically modified crops have been
implemented in recent years to enhance certain qualities of crops in order to make them grow in an
alternative fashion. These qualities include increase in yield, allowing more access to food for
malnourished communities. (Thomas Reuters Foundation, 2013) Despite all of its benefits, some
critics still note the unknown consequences of genetically modified crops, presented through poor
company administration and product maintenance. By discussing the positives and negatives of this
technology, it can be seen that the technology’s advantages outweigh its drawbacks, allowing it to
be an effective science in solving the upcoming food crisis.
Genetically modifying organisms, specifically plants, involve the insertion of a foreign gene into
the chosen subject, to add specific qualities like resistance to weather or perhaps pests. By first
isolating and extracting a gene from its source, it is then copied and transferred onto the subject
plant’s tissues. The desired gene is chosen through analysis of existing knowledge a This process is
most commonly done by using a soil bacterium, using its DNA molecules to help transfer the
desired genes into the targeted organism. Under a controlled environment, the end product is then
cultivated into a full plant, and testing will be conducted on whether or not the end product displays
the attributes that the genes should have given to it. (NEPAD, 2010)
One of the technology’s most important traits is the possibility of a larger yield in crops. With the
same amount of seeds, genetically modified crops will allow for a larger number of crops to be
reaped. When placed alongside other genetic qualities like insect resistance and weed resistance, the
chances of the crops being sabotaged by the natural elements is lowered, therefore once again
pushing the abundance of crops. From 1996-2011, an additional 110 million tonnes of soybeans and
195 million tonnes of corn have been harvested and consumed, showing the overwhelming
magnitude of benefits that this technology can bring us. (PG Economics, 2013) In addition, there
are economic and environmental advantages due to the alteration of specific genes as well, to be
discussed in detail. On the flip side, there are certain health and ethnical issues arising with
genetically modified crops. The possibility of allergies or disease-carrying hybrids are dangerous
and can cause damage to the community, to be discussed later further in detail. However, when
comparing genetically modified crops to other ways of solving world hunger, we can see that it is
very effective in solving the problem. In order to rid world hunger, we can attempt supporting
individual farmers worldwide in order to boost availability of food, or encourage the community to
waste less food, therefore lowering the demands and shifting the direction of resource towards
developing countries. However, both these methods are either non-efficient or difficult to implicate
on a large scale, requiring an abundance of resource with no profit to be gained. With genetically
Year 11 Biology
One World Essay - Genetically Modified Crops
Timothy Tan
11.6 S8
modified crops, all expenses can be paid off with the immense financial benefits gained from it, and
at the same time succeeding in providing more food for people worldwide. (Renton, 2013)
Genetically modifying crops can allow certain qualities that promote economic efficiency to be
promoted, therefore allowing higher profits to be gained for primary agricultural industries. These
qualities include insect and weed resistance, which allows for a lower use of pesticides and other
costly chemicals in order to maintain a rich cropping. In 2011, the net profit from farming in the UK
is 19.8 billion dollars, and 49% of that is due to the benefits of genetically modified crops.(The
obvious economic gain in terms of the providers of this industry are evident, with the profit
percentage extremely high, even after expenses of investing in genetically modified crops have
been paid for (only 21% of total income). (PG Economics, 2013) Though some are worried due to
the increasing costs of buying genetically modified seeds for growing crops, it is arguably
insignificant due to the immense profits of the technology. (Renton, 2013)
In addition to an economical advantage, genetically modified crops can even help the environment
in the area of growth. The ability to lessen the use of pesticides and insecticides has decreases the
effect of environmental impacts by 18.1% in any area. (PG Economics, 2013) In China, over 95%
of cotton there is a genetic variation called BT cotton. This transgenic crops has qualities that resist
insects, instead of killing the pests as would happen with insecticide and pesticide. The general
population of both insects and their natural predators have been increased, allowing the
environment to prosper and for farmlands to be a suitable habitat for organisms without harming
them. (Carrington, 2012) This proves genetically modifying crops to be a sustainable
With all of its benefits, genetically modified crops still pose an ethnic disadvantage to normal foods,
with little concern for the safety and quality of those modified foods. Companies that conduct
genetic modification seeks to put specific, singular qualities of a gene into targeted foods, but it is
often not realized that any one gene does not only hold one property or characteristic. By placing a
gene into foods just for one obvious perk, we are also placing consumers in the danger of those
unknown qualities existent in the foods. Genotypes and phenotypes harmful to humans upon
consumption may harm us, and may even go about this unnoticed. (Maroln, 2012) Companies
aiming to simply gain profit feel no responsibility in these cases, posing a big issue of ethnic
morality in the administration of genetically modified crops. This is a drawback because in order to
bring genes into a targeted food, parts of virus cells are often used as carriers to allow the genes to
be accepted and distributed around the organism. Though it is said to be harmless, recent studies
have shown that these viruses are actually able to produce virus proteins. This results in disease-
carrying foods, or causes consumers to be more susceptible to viral diseases. (Spilling the Beans
Newsletter, 2013) If companies manufacturing these foods are unable to control and properly
monitor and test the results of modified foods, countless consequences may result, including a mass
spread of disease amongst the consumers of these modified foods. ‘Soy allergies jumped 50% in the
U.Hk. just after GM soy was introduced,’ on a range of different magnitudes and severity. (Smith,
2007) Considering the extent that we use genetically modified crops nowadays, as additives to
products or just to be sold as crops, the risks and dangers of suffering from allergies or diseases
carried by these foods are increasing. This is especially dangerous if the companies do not have a
detailed inspection method to examine their modified products. Nonetheless, if tests were to be run
thoroughly regarding these genetically modified crops, and their origins and nutritional values and
properties listed properly like normal crops, the process would be more controlled and perhaps pose
Year 11 Biology
One World Essay - Genetically Modified Crops
Timothy Tan
11.6 S8
a lesser threat to the population. As Bonham from the Scientific American stated, this is not reason
enough for the technology to be eliminated, since the possibility of a risk from genetically modified
crops is low and can be controlled. (Bonham, 2013)
In conclusion, genetically modified crops are effective in solving the problem of world hunger,
when under controlled and maintained conditions. Genetically modified crops allow our agricultural
products to gain significant advantages in resistance against the natural elements, increasing the
yield and enhancing qualities that allow them to be given to more people and used in more ways.
Economical benefits spring from this, allowing more yield for less cost, as compared to a decade
ago when traditional agricultural methods were used. Though the technology has a drawback of
possibly carrying disease or may be allergic to some users, with careful management and
maintenance, this can be overcome. The technology is effective in solving this problem and can be
implemented with ease once the correct protocols are followedG
Year 11 Biology
One World Essay - Genetically Modified Crops
Timothy Tan
11.6 S8
Bibliography
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Retrieved 20 March, 2014, from http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/
2013/05/30/allergic-to-science-proteins-and-allergens-in-our-genetically-engineered-
food/
Carrington, D. (2012). GM crops good for environment, study finds. Retrieved http://
www.croplife.com/crop-inputs/seed-biotech/report-gmo-crops-benefit-farmers-
consumers-worldwide/
Crop Life. (2013) Report: GMO crops benefit farmers, consumers worldwide. Retrieved 21 March,
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Maroln, E. (2012). Geneticallly modified organisms: How they are made, and why they aren’t
labelled. Retrieved 19 March, 2014, from http://www.examiner.com/article/genetically-
modified-organisms-how-they-are-made-and-why-they-aren-t-labelled
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Year 11 Biology
One World Essay - Genetically Modified Crops
Timothy Tan
11.6 S8
World Hunger Education Service. (2013). 2013 World hunger and poverty facts and statistics.
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developing-genetically-modified-gm-crops
Year 11 Biology
One World Essay - Genetically Modified Crops
Timothy Tan
11.6 S8