Genetic Modification of Crops: Yes Or No?

Posted on November 16, 2010 in unEarthed

By Dishi Solanki:

As kids we always used to have these dream wagons to ride. When I was young I used to imagine pumpkins to be as small as grapes and oranges to be as big as watermelons. Well since science hasn’t left any stone unturned today and so humans have finally taken nature in their hands as well. In coming years I guess my dream would be a reality. I don’t understand the need to genetically modify a tree to produce juicy mouth-watering mangoes when it already is doing the same thing naturally. The genetic structure fruits and plants have already started being modified by us.

So what exactly is genetic modification or GM? This allows desirable genes to be transferred from one plant to another in order to create crops that can be high on nutrition, long-lasting & resistant to herbicides. There has been a lot of discussion going regarding the idea of GM. Some experts are either in affirmation or dead against it. Let’s view both the sides of the coin.

All the experts who support Genetic Modification are due to the following reasons:

  1. The WHO has estimated the world’s population to exceed by 9 billion by 2050.So GM food can be helpful in providing food at such a vast scale.GM crops can produce harvest despite hash weather or extreme temperatures.
  2. It is also helpful to prevent us from certain diseases. “Golden Rice” which is a GM crop has been tried in USA. The rice by combined with beta-carotene, reduces the vitamin A deficiency thereby preventing blindness in children.
  3. GM crops can be free of herbicides. It means that a farmer can kill the adjacent weeds without harming the main crop by spraying the insecticides.
  4. According to some experts GM food is being consumed in USA for a long time without any ill effects on the humans. Many allergies can be reduced by these GM foods. There are allergen free peanuts available.

While to counter question the above points there are many experts who feel GM to be a bane in disguise.

  1. These critics consider feeding the hungry stomachs to be more as money and politics rather than agriculture. GM cannot feed more people in long term as compared to rustic agricultural methods.
  2. These seeds are created in the lab. They are patented and their use is controlled and licensed.
  3. Indian food exports could be badly hit by this as many nations still love to savour Indian products as it is still considered to be “GM free”.
  4. There are herbicide resistant genes in GM crops. But these genes could spread from one genetically modified organism to other putting conventional crop farms at risk.
  5. Herbicide resistant crops cause to spread GM super weeds which are resistant to chemicals leading to increased use of poisons.

Finally taking nature in hand and transferring genes into one another is something least expected. A minor genetic change could lead to a dramatic disorder in an organism.

The writer is a Correspondent of Youth KI Awaaz.

Image courtesy: http://www.greenprophet.com/2009/08/egypt-gm-crop-ban/

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