Transgenic crops are obtained from genetic modification of one species of a crop to achieve some specified features in the same crop. (Hager,Katie. P .6) .It is mainly done to improve the quality of the crop to overcome certain challenges that it faces in terms of the conditions surrounding its growth and consumption.
The use transgenic crops have faced a lot of criticism in so many places around the world in so many of the elements associated with its effects that include their growth and effects to the foods that come from the crops. However, they have far way a wide range of benefits that go unnoticed as compared to the normal grown crops. The importance of these crops range from their nutritional value, impact on the environment, soil, and providing many solutions to many problems that have been facing the world and had proved too difficult to solve.
It has often been argued that the harmful effects of transgenic effects surpass the benefits of the crops and this is what has resulted to their criticism by so many people all over the world. However, a comparison is made based on the evolutions made on the advantages of the two types of crops, that is the genetically modified and the natural crops in terms of their influence to the environment, human consumption and the solutions they provide to challenges that have been facing the world in a long period of time.
Favors no-till farming. The first aspect that is to be understood by the farmers is why they plough their land to grow crops and the long term influence of ploughing to the environment. Ploughing is mainly done to control weeds, however, continuous ploughing of the land makes the land to lose its fertility in the long run and become less productive agriculturally. The growth of transgenic crops continuously helps in weed control and the final effect is that it is the preservation of the soil structure and preservation of the fertility levels of the land. This is not the case when natural crops are grown.
Weed control has been a major problem that has been facing farmers in a very long time. There has been no method that has come up that effectively deals with it without the financial implication. The growth of transgenic crops has however come up with an almost perfect solution. There are species of transgenic crops that have come up that are not only resistant to the weed effects but also kill the weeds and break them down into harmless components. An example of this has been the transgenic soya bean that is called ???roundup ready??™ that is known to kill weeds and break them down to harmless ingredients. There are other transgenic crops that have been known to be effective in weed control; it is also shown that with time, scientists will be able to come up with a formula of combining genes of very many genes of different crops to come up with a genetic modified species of almost of every crop. This is a better way of eliminating weeds as compared to the use of herbicides that is employed in the growth of natural crops since use of herbicides poses so many side effects not only to the farmers themselves but also the land.
Maintenance of the soil structure; the growth of the transgenic crops has been shown to have very minimal negative impacts to the soil structure which is not the case in the growth of natural crops. The soil structure is the arrangement of soil layers and it determines the availability of minerals, water and air from the soil to the crops hence its maintenance is a key tool to farming so as to ensure the availability of these resources necessary for the growth of crops hence productivity. This is not the case in growth of natural crops since it involves continuous plouhing of the land as has been seen earlier. This is a major factor contributing to the destruction of the soil structure.
Reduced cost of farming; The cost of producing transgenic crops is actually very low as compared to growing of the natural crops. The use of herbicides which might include many chemical combinations require a lot of financial from the research of their suitability to the purchase of the approved chemicals for application. The cost of labor that is involved in tilling the farms for preparation of planting to the tilling of the farms during weed control are among the activities that raise the cost of farming which makes this practice a more expensive form of farming as compared to the culturing of transgenic crops that doo not require any of these activities at any stage of their growth.
Perseverance to harsh conditions; There are very harsh conditions that include climatic as well as chemical conditions that have proven difficult for growth of natural crops. Many areas of the world use irrigation as a form of farming and though it is an important method that helps in providing food in areas with low amount of rains and drought stricken areas it also poses great challenges, when water used for irrigation evaporates it leaves the salts that were dissolved in the soil. Accumulation of these salts in the top layers of the soil makes the soil saline and this makes it difficult for natural crops to survive. However, a solution has been produced by production of gene modified crops provide a typical solution to these problems. Some species of salt tolerant crops have obtained from the gene modification technology. An example is a tomato species that has been obtained and is well known to do well in these conditions. There are also other types of crops that have been genetically modified to fit various harsh conditions which any ordinary crop will not be able to survive.
Reduced used of pesticides; Pesticides is another major problem that faces many farmers in different areas of the world. Solutions have come up but all of them involve the use of financial resources and may not in the end provide the desired results. This is a factor that has also increased the cost of producing the ordinary crops and it is seen as a limiting factor in the high yields of products which is the main objective of any farmer. Pests are so harmful and in extreme case may not only cause total destruction if not well checked to the crops but also to the final foods that are consumed. The use of pesticides is also known to have some side effects to the consumption of the grown food; an example is DHT (Hager, p12) which has been found to find its way into the products of the grown crops and eventually to the consumers and this poses a health risk. This problem has given a solution by the genetic modification technology which has been able to come up with crop species that are pest resistant hence limiting the use of pesticides in efforts of pest control thus eliminating all the risks posed by the use of pesticides in the growth of the ordinary crops. An example of this has been seen in the growth of genetically modified cotton that is called ???Bt Cotton??™. A case study carried out on the effectiveness of the use of ???Bt cotton??™ in the United States has shown that it has reduced the use of pesticides by over 2 million pounds between the years 1996-2000.The same study carried in China has also indicated the reduction that pesticide spraying has reduced by more than a half.(Union,2000)
Proper utilization of land. The use of gene modification technology in the production of transgenic crops has really improved the use of land as compared to the growing of natural crops which has contributed to the misuse of land. The main aim of any farmer is to come up with high yields after all the efforts have been put towards the growth of the crops. The growth of natural crops has however failed to come with effective ways of increasing product yield without increasing the size of land needed to grow the crops. The high demand of food as the world population continues to grow increases, the growth of natural crops encounters this increasing large pieces of land. This is not an economical way since it also needs more input of resources hence resulting to high cost of production. However, gene modification technology has mainly focused on increasing the productivity of the crops in the same existing pieces of land. This is a sure way of solving a problem without another problem arising.(Karen, Pg 51)
Saves wild animals habitation; The use of the gene modification technology in producing transgenic crops has really provided a solution of saving the habitat for wild animals that has been destroyed over a long time by the practice of the growth of ordinary crops. The need to meet high food yields has been characterized by the clearance of large fields of and tracks of forests which provide habitation to wild animals. This has mainly been observed in the forests central and South America, in Asia and Africa. This has been observed over a long period of time and it has led to great destruction of wild animals to lack of habitation. It can be observed that if such a trend continues over the next five years, the balance of biodiversity will be lost and this will pose a great threat of extinction of some species of wildlife. Adopting the culture of growing transgenic crops however provides a solution to this problem as it has been seen by improving the productivity without necessarily increasing the amount of land.
Reduction of Pollution; pollution is an environmental challenge that has been posed by many farming practices that involve the growth of ordinary crops. The effects of pollution vary from the soil, water and air. As the world tries to put efforts toward reduction of pollution by focusing in the reduction of wastes from industries and their treatment before release. Some other forms of pollution that have gone without their contribution being noticed are these farming practices that involve growth of natural crops. The use of pesticides has been a major contribution to the pollution of water as well as the soil pollution. The chemicals used in pests, diseases and weed control are washed by rain or irrigation water to water sources that form points for water of consumption by both human beings and wild animals. The same chemical are also deposited in the soil and their accumulation in the soil over some time cause the soil to become unproductive by reducing the fertility. This in the long run creates a problem to the growth of the natural crops. The use of pesticides and herbicides is greatly minimized in the growth of transgenic crops which as has been seen earlier has come along in producing pest resistant species as well as weed control species. Therefore it can be seen as a pollution control measure that is brought by the growth of natural crops.
Improved Nutrition; Quality of products produced is determined by the ability of the product to completely satisfy the user as well as giving additional value. Most of the natural crops though provide the intended nutritional values; they lack the additional values that would be required by any consumer of its product. Many transgenic crops on the other hand provide this additional value by improving the nutritional value of the crops. Some nutrients that are not present in a natural crop are found in the same crop that is genetically modified.
Therefore, to sum up all these benefits that have been seen of transgenic crops over the natural crops, it is certain that the transgenic crops are way better than the natural crops and a adopting this technology will have many benefits and solutions to problems facing the world today.
* Hager, Katie. (2006) Biotech fruits, vegetable and flowers. February. P. 12
* Hord, Bill(2001) Cotton Industry on Biotech Introduction. World Herald
* Massey, Rachen.(2000) Sustainability and ag biotech. Rachel??™s Environment and Environment and Health News. No.686. Feb. 10.www.rachel.org
* Karen R. Krub (2004) Farmers Guide to GMOS (PDF/362KB) pg 51
* Union of concerned scientists. (2000) Biotechnology and sustainable Agriculture.
* Frank, Christian. Genetic modification of plants. New York. Chandler House Press, 2011