May 14, 2017
National Academics of Sciences Engineering Medicine,
2101 Constitution Ave NW,
Dear Mr. Smith,
I am a senior researcher at the National Academics of Sciences Engineering Medicine with a keen interest in genetic engineering. This letter discusses on the prejudices that exist with regards to genetically modified crops on their impact on human health, the environment, and biodiversity, especially among insects. To make a proper assessment of the effects of genetically engineered (GE) crops, these letter is based on a report that compares them to non-GE crops. It is important to note that although GE crops have been acknowledged with the benefit of increasing food outputs, nonetheless, they are often accused, albeit with no scientific evidence, of having detrimental effects on human health and causing increased weed presence in farms.
The current perceived problem with GE crops is on their agro-economic and environment effects. Primarily, GE crops are planted with an aim of increasing returns to farmers by reducing the level of post-harvest losses and increasing the quantity and quality of harvests. To achieve this objective, most GE crops contain genes that are obtained from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which is a bacterium in the soil that provides crops with inbuilt insecticides. Accordingly, GE crops kill the targeted insects that ingest them. In addition, most GE crops are herbicide resistant, a factor that allows them to survive the application of strong and harsh anti-herbs chemicals. While the use of herbicides improves the farm’s economics and profitability, the overarching question is of its long-term effect on land and weeds. Finally, there is always a need for identifying the nutrient content of GE crops and whether it is within the acceptable limits.
An elaborate and detailed analysis of GE crops by the National Academics of Sciences Engineering Medicine showed that they increase the overall quantity and quality of harvests. Th research showed that the adoption of Bt maize and cotton has benefited farmers by increasing harvest through reduction of crop destruction by insects. Importantly, it also increases insect biodiversity as compared to using synthetic insecticides. The effectiveness of Bt crops has resulted in a reduction in non-Bt varieties. Nonetheless, there has been a minimal and slow formation of insects that are resistant to Bt protein. In addition, the use of herbicide-resistant crops has contributed to greater yield in farms because of improved weed control. On the same breath, the report notes that the use of excess glyphosate results in the formation of weed species that are resistant to it. However, the anti-herbicide resistant weed has little agronomic harm.
In order to verify the agronomic and environment effects of GE crops, the National Academics of Sciences Engineering Medicine compared them with non-GE crops. This comparison showed that GE crops have a higher yield than non-GE crops. In terms of human health effects of GE crops, scientific data showed that GE crops have higher nutrition levels than non-GE crops, but this difference was considered to be within the acceptable threshold (The National Academics of Sciences Engineering Medicine). Finally, with regards to social and economic effects, GE crops were found to be more economical and beneficial to farmers.
Due to the proven benefits of GE-crops and their minimal negative effects, emerging technologies such as CRISPS/Cas9 can be used to increase the precision in genome modification. Accordingly, the new modified genes can increase the tolerance levels of crops to drought and thermal extremes. In addition, they can increase efficiency in the use of nitrogen and in the plant’s photosynthesis process. Finally, they can improve the nutrient content of plants and also the number of pests and targeted insects that they are resistant against. In light of these, better use of technology in GE crops and increasing the number of plants that are modified may result in improved food security and an increase in farm outputs.
2101 Constitution Ave NW,
May 14, 2017