- Increased Crop Yields
- Pest and Disease Resistance
- Drought Tolerance
- Nutrient Use Efficiency
- Increased Shelf Life
Some people believe that GM agriculture is the key to solving world hunger, while others view it as a threat to the environment and human health. What are some of the positive outcomes of GM agriculture?
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Increased Crop Yields
GM agriculture has increased crop yields by allowing farmers to grow more food with fewer resources. This, in turn, helps to feed more people and reduces the amount of food waste. GM crops are also more resistant to pests and diseases, which can further increase crop yields.
More food for a growing population
A 2016 study estimates that, without genetically modified crops, the world would have 2 billion fewer people due to food insecurity. The study suggests that GM crops are more nutritious and resilient to pests and bad weather, which has lead to increased crop yields.
In 2012, 17 percent of the world’s farmland was devoted to GM crops. The benefits of GM crops have been most pronounced in developing countries, where small farmers have been able to increase their yields and lift themselves out of poverty.
GM crops have also been shown to be more resilient to pests and bad weather. For example, a type of GM rice that was engineered to be resistant to insects has helped farmers in Bangladesh reduce their use of pesticides by 80 percent. In India, Bt cotton (a GM crop that produces its own insecticide) has helped farmers reduce their use of chemical pesticides by 50 percent.
Increased profits for farmers
One of the main reasons farmers choose to grow genetically modified crops is because they can make more money. GM crops are usually designed to be resistant to herbicides and pests, which means farmers can use fewer inputs and still get a good yield. This can lead to increased profits, as well as increased production of food for both humans and animals.
In some cases, GM crops may also fetch a higher price at market. For example, farmers who grow genetically modified corn that has been engineered to resist the herbicide glyphosate can command a higher price for their crop, as the glyphosate-resistant trait is in high demand from the livestock industry.
Pest and Disease Resistance
One of the most obvious advantages of GM crops is that they are often resistant to pests and diseases. This can lead to increased yields and improved crop quality. In some cases, it can also reduce the need for pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
Fewer crop losses to pests and diseases
Pest and disease resistance is one of the most commonly cited benefits of GM crops. When a crop is engineered to be resistant to a particular pest or disease, it can result in significantly reduced losses due to that particular pest or disease. For example, GM crops that have been engineered to be resistant to pests have been shown to result in reduced crop damage and losses due to pests. In some cases, the introduction of GM crops has led to complete elimination of certain pests. For example, the use of GM crops has completely eliminated the need for spraying insecticides for control of the European corn borer in the United States.
Disease resistance is another important benefit of GM crops. Crops that have been engineered to be resistant to diseases can result in reduced crop losses due to those diseases. For example, GM papaya plants that have been engineered to be resistant to the papaya ringspot virus have helped save the papaya industry in Hawaii.
In addition to reducing crop losses, pest and disease resistance can also lead to other benefits, such as reduced need for pesticides and herbicides, increased yield, and improved food quality.
Reduced need for pesticides and herbicides
One of the claimed benefits of GM crops is that they require fewer pesticides and herbicides. For example, Bt crops have been modified to contain a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. This gene produces a protein that is toxic to certain insects but harmless to humans, animals, and most other organisms. As a result, these crops can be grown with reduced insecticide use. In the United States, the planting of Bt corn has resulted in a decrease in the use of insecticides for corn production by more than 50% since 1996.
Some GM crops have been engineered to be resistant to herbicides. For example, crops that have been modified to be resistant to glyphosate (a broad-spectrum herbicide sold under the trade name Roundup) can be sprayed with glyphosate to kill weeds without harming the crop. As a result, farmers can use fewer different herbicides and reduce their overall herbicide use.
Drought tolerance is one of the most important positive outcomes of GM agriculture. With the world’s population expected to increase to 9.7 billion by 2050, the demand for food will also increase. The United Nations has predicted that by 2050, agricultural production will need to increase by 60%.
Increased crop yields in dry conditions
GM crops have been engineered to be more tolerant to drought conditions. This means that they are able to better withstand periods of low rainfall and still produce high yields.
Drought tolerance is an important trait in crops, as it can help to ensure food security in regions that are prone to drought. For example, a study conducted in 2013 found that GM maize varieties were able to outperform non-GM varieties by 6% in drought conditions.
Additionally, the spread of GM crops has been found to have a positive impact on the incomes of small-scale farmers. A study conducted in India found that farmer households that had adopted GM cotton had seen their incomes increase by an average of 22%.
Reduced water usage
Crop plants that have been genetically modified to be drought tolerant can survive with less water than their non-GM counterparts. This may seem like a small change, but it can have a big impact on water usage, especially in areas where droughts are common.
Drought tolerance is just one of the many benefits of GM crops. Other advantages include resistance to pests and diseases, improved food quality, and increased yield potential. However, GM crops also come with some risks and concerns, which you can read about in our article on the pros and cons of GM crops.
Nutrient Use Efficiency
GM agriculture has been shown to increase nutrient use efficiency in crops. This means that plants are able to better absorb and utilize the nutrients in the soil, leading to healthier plants that require less fertilizer. This is beneficial for both farmers and the environment.
More efficient use of fertilizers
Precision agriculture and other technological advances have helped farmers to become more efficient in their use of fertilizers. Through the use of GPS mapping and yield monitors, farmers can nowapply fertilizers only where they are needed, and in the right amounts. This has led to a significant reduction in the amount of fertilizer that is used overall, and has also reduced the amount of fertilizer that is lost to runoff and leaching.
Reduced environmental pollution
Environmental pollution from agricultural production – including water pollution from chemical fertilizer runoff, soil erosion, and greenhouse gas emissions – is a significant global problem. Agricultural production is responsible for approximately 70% of water pollution worldwide, and the United Nations has estimated that soil erosion caused by farming amounts to the loss of 30-40 gigatons (billion tons) of topsoil each year.
The use of GM crops has the potential to help reduce environmental pollution in a number of ways. For example, by increasing nutrient use efficiency, GM crops can reduce the amount of chemical fertilizer needed, and thus reduce fertilizer runoff. GM crops that are herbicide tolerant can also help reduce soil erosion, as they allow farmers to practice no-till or low-till agriculture, in which crop residue is left on the field instead of being plowed under. In no-till agriculture, there is no need to till the soil before planting, which means there is less soil disturbance and less erosion. Moreover, some GM crops have been developed that are resistant to pests, and thus require less use of pesticides – which can also help reduce water pollution.
Increased Shelf Life
One of the primary benefits of GM agriculture is that it can produce food with a longer shelf life. This is possible due to the fact that GM crops are designed to resist pests, mould, and other types of damage that can cause food to spoil. This means that food can be shipped and stored for longer periods of time without fear of it going bad. As a result, GM agriculture can help to improve food security by ensuring that there is a consistent supply of safe, nutritious food.
Crops can be shipped and stored for longer periods of time
One advantage of GM crops is that they can be shipped and stored for longer periods of time. This is because the genes that have been inserted into the crops allow them to resist insects and disease, as well as tolerate herbicides. As a result, these crops are less likely to spoil during transport or storage. This increase in shelf life can lead to lower prices for consumers, as well as reduced wastage of food.
Reduced food waste
Food waste is a major problem in the United States. It is estimated that up to 40% of food goes to waste each year, amounting to tens of millions of tons of food. This wasted food ends up in landfills where it decomposes and produces methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
GM crops can help reduce food waste in several ways. First, GM crops can be engineered to have a longer shelf life. This means that food can be stored for longer periods of time without going bad. Second, GM crops can be engineered to be more resistant to pests and disease. This means that there is less chance of crops being ruined by pests or disease before they can be harvested. Finally, GM crops can be engineered to be more tolerant of adverse environmental conditions such as drought or frost. This means that crops are less likely to be damaged by extreme weather conditions before they can be harvested.
Reducing food waste is one of the positive outcomes of GM agriculture. By reducing food waste, we can help mitigate climate change and preserve our natural resources.