Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Changes in Genetically Modified Agriculture

Up until 1996, farmers were steadily increasing their production of genetically modified crops.  However, genetically modified crops have been a highly controversial part of the agricultural industry.  For the first time, in 2015, the amount of land used for genetically modified crops has declined.  Farmers reported low prices on the genetically modified crops, and in turn planted less corn, soybeans, and canola.  These three crops, along with cotton, account for the majority of genetically modified agriculture.  Consumers and environmental groups, however, have taken a strong stand against genetically modified crops.  This has hurt the biotechnology industry that takes care of genetically modified crops.  In 2015, genetically modified seeds were planted across 444 million acres - a 1% decrease from the 448.5 million acres in 2014.  While the decrease is small, it could be the start of a movement for organic crops.  

Genetically modified plants offer a variety or pros and cons.  They are cheaper to produce, and more genetically modified crops can be harvested at a single time.  One type of genetic modification, known as selective breeding, has been employed for ages.  Humans actively selected favorable traits in organisms and bred them together for more "perfect" organisms.  However, gene transfer is a more controversial method.  It involves the cutting of the plant's gene and the insertion of another gene into the plant's genomic sequence.  The modification has caused individuals to have allergic reactions, and it is thought that some of the proteins could be toxic.  

I think moving away from genetically modified foods comes with benefits and downfalls.  Quality organic foods are more expensive, and it would be difficult to move over to organic altogether.  There would be less accessibility to quality food, which would hurt the entire population.  However, without genetic modification, food may actually be safer.  Either way, the 1% decrease in genetically modified acreage is not devastating to the biotechnology industry.  Genetically modified foods look to be here to stay for quite some time.  

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