The Main Use and Value of Ag Biotechnology

By Choi Yee Ng

Mon, 16 Jul 2018


According to the Agricultural Statics report published by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2017, there is an increase use of pesticides such as herbicides, fungicides and insecticides since 2000 and over 200 million pounds of pesticides had been only used on corns in the U.S. in 2016.


Though pesticides can improve crop productivity and allow farmers to provide better quality products, they can as well bring harm and danger to both human and agri-ecosystem.

In this line, researches have shown a correlation between pesticides and chronic diseases like asthma and cancer. Moreover, it can lead to water contamination and affect soil fertility.


 Since 1995, scientists have been creating new crops with agricultural biotechnology where DNA is studied and modified. Their main objective is to improve crop productivity and to develop biological pest control.

Crops can be modified to suit a region with specific weather condition, for example in California where droughts have been a reoccurring natural disaster, biotech practices have proven beneficial.

Moreover, drought-resistant crops can increase water-use efficiency and are able to survive through extremely dry conditions. In a recent journal, Agricultural Biotechnology: The Promise and Prospects of Genetically Modified Crops, published by G. Barrows, S. Sexton, and D. Zilberman, it was stated that “an estimated 128 million kilograms of pesticide applications were avoided worldwide from 1996 to 2007 because of insect-resistant Bt cotton adoption”. Thus, not only the risk of farmers’ poisoning is reduced but also, they are benefited financially, and pest outbreak is less likely to occur. In addition, soil fertility and water quality can be improved with less pesticides being used.

Though, since agricultural biotechnology is a fairly new subject, many long-term effects on human and the ecosystem are still yet to be discovered.

It is without a doubt that the public is skeptical about GM products even when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has tight regulations on them.

Since genetic materials are transferred between organisms and plants, genes encoding major allergen can also be transferred. Potentially, new allergens in food can cause allergic reactions to the consumers. Furthermore, biodiversity can be reduced when more farmers select GM crops and abandon other varieties. This is a major concern because all crops will not be able to survive as they are hit by a disease.

Even though pesticides can improve crop productivity, they also can put human health on danger.

After reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of biotechnology, it is to affirm that it possesses a great potential to become the long-term solution to natural disasters and challenges faced by farmers.

With the help of biotechnology, pesticides usage can be greatly reduced.

Farmers’ health and businesses will no longer be at risk as crops are more stable and less likely to be affected by natural disasters.

However, technologies are constantly evolving, and governments, researches and academics should be continuously modifying the biosafety regulation to ensure the ultimate aim of assuring consumers’ safety

To address these challenges, we have developed AG40 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 AG40, 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.

Join Challenge Advisory and all our stakeholders for education, interoperability and investment relating to the latest technology in digital agriculture – click here to find out more:

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Choi Yee Ng

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