This is the second of a series of articles that I will write to explain and outline the advantages of genetically modifying food and organisms. Before moving forward, I should point out that I will discuss some of the disadvantages to genetic changes to crops, but that will come after this series is over. Sign up on the right of the blog to receive updates directly to your email inbox to ensure you don’t miss any part of the series.
Part one was about pest resistance.
Herbicides usually refers to substances and chemicals that are used to destroyed unwanted organisms growing close to or in the same place as plants. So for example, herbicides are used to remove weeds that would otherwise endanger the harvest of farmers.
To explain briefly, these are the main points:
- Farmers around the world use herbicides that are harmful and at times poisonous to the plants and the people who eat them. The herbicides are used in large amounts, and as I mentioned in my previous post on this topic, consumers prefer not to eat such food. As a result, the effects of such chemicals and herbicides in particular are often covered up so as to not negatively affect consumer purchase decisions.
- It is unreasonable to expect farmers to remove the weeds, for example, without the use of chemicals. They would be forced to use methods such as tilling (which will be discussed in a later post.)
- Spraying huge fields with herbicide is a time-consuming and expensive process, making the final cost of growing food rise above what it could have been if herbicides were not used.
That’s the general gist of the arguments against using non-genetically modified methods. Let’s dive deeper into these concerns.
Herbicides Are Harmful And Poisonous
These herbicides are made of chemicals and other drugs. I can go into further detail in future posts if requested, but the general gist is that these herbicides are produced using acidic chemicals that allow them to affect and kill the weeds. Because these weeds grow so close to the plants, it is but natural that the chemicals reach and affect the plants in some way as well.
These plants are then either directly consumed by human beings, or are consumed by animals which are then in turn consumed by human beings. Regardless of the chain of food, in the end it reaches human beings. Even through the strength of the chemicals may have been reduced due to the time factor and all the other living organisms invovled, it is safe to assume that there is some effect remaining.
The rise of diseases and illnesses that were not present a few hundred years ago can, in part, be blamed on the increased usage of harmful and at times unregulated chemicals being sprayed on the primary source of food for all animals, including human beings.
Tilling Is An Unreasonable Alternative
The alternate to spraying herbicide on plants is to ask the farmer to employ methods such as tilling. These methods are manual, very time-consuming, labour intensive, not as effective, and expensive.
Because they are manual, the farmer will be forced to employ much more people to do jsut this task. Not only will this increase his expenses, it will force him to take people away from other important tasks. We should also note that an increase in his expenses means an increase in the overall price of the produce, meaning that the consumers will be paying more than they should have to.
Also, the manual nature of the work means that the job will not be done as thoroughly. This could mean that some unwanted herbs and weeds could remain, which would put the farmer’s whole crop at risk. This is a very risky venture, and something that farmers are increasingly reluctant to take.
Herbicide Spraying Is Time-Consuming And Expensive
As with tilling, herbicide is also time-consuming and expensive. This is a problem that is solved neither by the manual nor by the chemical methods. Both methods require that the farmer put in a significant time and financial investment into his crops so as to ensure the safety of the same crops. This was a necessary evil for the farmer if he wanted to harvest any part of his crops, but it no longer is. Read on to find out why.
Genetically modified food can be altered in a way that would allow it to be resistant to a very powerful herbicide. This not only solves the above problems, it also ensures that environmental damage is prevented. This is done by reducing the amount of herbicide needed. These crops only need one application og herbicide, which is enough to kill off all unwanted organisms because unlike “natural” crops, there is no need to slow down and carefully apple the herbicide to weeds individually.
This is the second part of this series. There are several other benefits such as pest resistance, disease resistance, cold tolerance, pharmaceuticals, etc. Enter your email address below to get these articles directly in your inbox when they are posted. You will also get a free ebook that explains the basics of GM food and GMO. It contains everything you need to know to be able to dive deeper into these discussion in your own research as well as in conversation with your colleagues and friends. Sign up below!