Are GMOs beneficial to the environment?

By Matanat Rashid

Thu, 6 Sep 2018

Debate continues over Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and whether they offer any benefits to farmers and to consumers. Numerous researches make it evident that GMOs have consistently provided important economic and production gains, improved incomes and reduced risk for farmers around the world. Statistically, Farmers who use improved seeds and grow biotech crops have seen substantial net economic benefits at the farm level amounting to $14 billion in 2010 and $88.4 billion for the (1996-2017) period. Moreover, crop biotechnology has reduced pesticide spraying (1996-2017) by 438 million kg (-8.6%) which is satisfactory for the consumers who possess reservations concerning pesticides and their harmful effects.

 Farmers have been modifying the way they farm for more than 10,000 years. Evolution in this sector has definitely bridged the gap between the supply and demand. These new crop varieties, known as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), have led to many tangible and quantifiable benefits for humanity and the ecosystem. Still, the controversies suggest that the effect of the modernisation on the environment has not been addressed enough. The LSU AgCentre conducted some tests where they tested both the GM and conventional crops regarding the environmental impact, they concluded few points which are summarised below:

GMOs Reduce Dangerous Pesticide Usage:

Genetically modified insect-resistant crops produce their own, highly-specific pesticide known as BT proteins against a specific group of pests. What it means is that the farmers can refrain from over-spraying the insecticides on their crops. The studies on BT proteins have proved them to be safer when compared to the traditional pesticides used by the farmers. GMOs have also provided the farmers with the luxury of utilising latest herbicides which are both safer and cheaper than the old ones. Statistically, farmers in the USA have reduced the use of harmful pesticides by 37% over the last couple of years.

GMOs Conserve Natural Habitats:

GMOs requires significantly less land compared to conventional and organic farming to grow the equivalent amount of food. GMOs have increased the yielding productivity by 34% and therefore provide a milder agricultural impact in comparisons to the other alternatives.

GMOs Don’t Depend on Tilling-Farming:

Tilling is a frequently used weed management method which enhances the growth of crops. Tilling, however, causes erosion and run-off in the soil as it removes nutrients from the soil. Furthermore, tilling also harm earthworms, ants and other organisms. Contrary to that, herbicide-restraint crops do not rely on the mechanical weed removal and therefore eradicates the tilling process entirely.

GMOs Protect Beneficial Insects:

The BT proteins in GMOs only target the insects that are harmful towards the crops. On the other hand, the traditional, broad-spectrum insecticides do not possess the tendency to differentiate between the insects that are harmful and the insects that aren’t. This means that the lives of beneficial insects are being protected by the utility of GMOs.

GMOs limit Carbon Dioxide Emission:

In 2010, GMOs were responsible for removing 19.4 billion kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Farms that grow GMOs require less diesel to power their tractors and as a result, they have a smaller carbon footprint and are thus eco-friendlier.

Additionally, the GMO seeds have been tested more than any other alternative in the history of agriculture. They have proved their worth as safest, economical, and environmentally friendly crops. According to The American Medical Association, “Bioengineered foods [GMO food] have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature,”. The National Academy has also conducted researches, and they, as well, haven’t found any cause-and-effect evidence of environmental problems from the GE crops.

To address these challenges, we have developed AG 4.0 workshop, a programme designed around bringing key stakeholders from throughout US agriculture together to tackle the most issues in relation to the stability of the market. To find out how this will be achieved, and whether you can be involved in this, follow the link here and below:


Challenge Advisory is bringing together AG 4.0, a unique workshop where organisations will have the ability to network amongst each other for precise and profitable resolutions across the entire industry. There will be panel discussions and workshop sessions designed to create partnerships and profitable business development, helping to find cross-specialism solutions to current sectoral challenges.

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Matanat Rashid

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