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Jose Martin Martinez Acevedo

Lynn A Larsen

BI 101 – Intro to Biology

13 November 2007

The Ecological Impact of GE Agriculture Today

“It took more than 100,000 years for our population to reach a billion

people, but now it increases by a billion people every 13 years”

(Discover 673)

As the global population increases, we can see a lot more economical and

social interests involved in the supply of the most important human need: Food.

Every day, millions of pounds of food are produced and consumed by humans in a

regular daily basis; at the same time, some farmers are finding really attractive the

fact that they can avoid certain common problems in their crop production.

Problems like pests and variation in yearly crop production now can be aided and

prevented by the cultivation of genetic engineered crops. Such crops are stronger

and more resistant to the common agricultural problems that affect them. The

alteration in the genes of most common seeds has made extraordinary effects in

the development of plants. Changes in the structure of the crops include: developed

resistance to herbicides, insects and freezing conditions, and, in some cases,

accelerated growth. In our days, the use of these products has awakened the

concern of several countries around the world because of the uncertainty in the

effects in the consumption and against our environment. The most common crops

like corn, wheat, and rice are now containing genetic alterations and are grown in
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most American farms. No questions are asked in regards to the impact of this new

altered seeds because there is no real awareness from the consequences of its

experimental usage in our environment. What possible economical, social and

environmental threats could this alteration turn into? Is it important to compare our

population growth with the current alterations that we are making to our

environment?

In the1950’s, estrange things started happening in several cities of the

United States. Birds stopped singing, pets started dying and garden plants started

suddenly disappearing. What was the reason behind this event? The answer was

found in the usage of DDT a pesticide that, at that time, was the most popular

because of its efficiency killing weeds, mice, and most common pests. The usage of

this pesticide was seen in small and big scale. It was sold in supermarkets and it

also was sprayed in entire cities in order to eradicate common city pests like rats.

Little by little, the effects were appearing, non-targeted animals and plants started

dying or getting sick taking certain species close to extinction. (Carson 1) Events

like this happened not so many years ago. Our ecosystem was infected and affected

for a period of time of 40 years. During that time DDT was considered an

agricultural improvement and a easy way to kill common pests. It was trusted by

millions of people in different countries. Fortunately, during that time, Rachel

Carson, a marine biologist that had a real concern about this issue, wrote a

revolutionary book that opened the eyes of everybody making radical changes by

showing the side effects of the use of DDT. After reading parts of this book, I found a

lot of similarities in the concern caused by the DDT usage and our current use of

genetic engineered crops. The trust and use that big corporations are giving to GE
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foods is alarming because there are some side effects already mysteriously

appearing in our environment.

DNA alterations are defined by Discover Biology as “a three-step process in

which a DNA sequence is isolated, modified and inserted back into the same species

or into a different species. An individual receiving such a DNA sequence is called a

genetically modified organism.” (Discover 288) Scientists have found the key to

pass certain characteristics of an organism into another so that they can become

more efficient. Some crops like corn, wheat, rice and many more are now altered by

genes from different plants, animals and pesticides.

Lately, scientists have found the key to insert genes of the well known

Bacillus thuringiensis also known as BT. Bt is famous for being the only biopesticide

available in the market. Bt is sprayed in most common crops in order to repel pest

like potato beetles and corn-borers. This pesticide has the quality of evaporating

completely from the plant not affecting the structure nor the soil where it is applied.

Unfortunately, the amounts sprayed to produce has to be applied cautiously

because the excessive use of it could develop resistance in the pests and in the

next growing season the pest could comeback and that pesticide could not work for

them anymore. This could create what is commonly known as superpests. On the

other side, genetic engineering scientists have developed crops that include genes

of Bt in the seeds of the crops affected. This fact has worried environmentalist

scientist because this means that the benefits of Bt are no longer considered

beneficial. The fruits or vegetables genetically altered with Bt are capable of

producing concentrations 10 or 20 times more concentrated than regular Bt sprays.

The fact that the produce has the pesticide inside its system is alarming because

the seeds of such organism will continue having the alteration. The plant is going to
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continue its normal cycle as same as it used to do and, at the same time, pests are

going to come every year and eventually are going to become immune to the toxins

of this plant. In the meantime, crops altered are going completely useless and

irreversible.

The problem does not stop by having a genetically altered crop. The problem

increments its victims when other organisms continue their regular cycle consuming

Another environmental consequence that has been noticed lately is the intoxication

issue involving the use of pesticide genes

It is argued that In countries like the United States, the short term benefit of

supplying food and making good earnings seem to be more important than other

long term side effects like seeing species going into extinction, the contamination

and erosion of the soil and the transmission of GE genes into organic crops. The use

of genetic engineered crops are bringing changes in the comp

These side effects could bring severe problems to our future generations,

problems that could be out of human capabilities. Carson’s text on the DDT issue

was a so alarming and powerful that opened the eyes of millions and encouraged

the banning of DDT from the agricultural. People have to have distrust in any
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experimental discoveries of our days. People have to have concern and fear of the

future consequences that this could result into. If we don’t put attention by

implementing prompt changes in the way we grow and in the use of alterations , it

will be incredibly difficult to do with more demand of food.

Something similar is In the meantime, scientist keep developing new

technologies, there is no problem with that. The problem appears when new

technologies are sent to the market without enough evidence of its safety.