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Question 3

Compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of production of genetically modified crops.

Answer

The production of genetically modified (GM) or transgenic plants has several advantages.

(i) Most of the GM crops have been developed for pest resistance, which increases the crop productivity and therefore, reduces the reliance on chemical pesticides.

(ii) Many varieties of GM food crops have been developed, which have enhanced nutritional quality. For example, golden rice is a transgenic variety in rice, which is rich in vitamin A.



(iii) These plants prevent the loss of fertility of soil by increasing the efficiency of mineral usage.

(iv) They are highly tolerant to unfavourable abiotic conditions.

(v) The use of GM crops decreases the post harvesting loss of crops.

However, there are certain controversies regarding the use of genetically modified crops around the world. The use of these crops can affect the native biodiversity in an area. For example, the use of Bt toxin to decrease the amount of pesticide is posing a threat for beneficial insect pollinators such as honey bee. If the gene expressed for Bt toxin gets expressed in the pollen, then the honey bee might be affected. As a result, the process of pollination by honey bees would be affected. Also, genetically modified crops are affecting human health. They supply allergens and certain antibiotic resistance markers in the body. Also, they can cause genetic pollution in the wild relatives of the crop plants. Hence, it is affecting our natural environment.

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