Disadvantages of Biotechnology the Environment
While the general belief is that genetically -engineered herbicide and pesticide crops are environmentally- friendly because they require less herbicide and pesticide applications, the reality is that they actually require more because crops growing around them quickly become resistant to such herbicides and pesticides.
Also GM bacterium (Klebsiella planticola) meant to break down wood chips, corn stalks and lumber wastes to produce ethanol – with the post-process waste to be used as compost, end up rendering the soil sterile.
This is because it kills essential soil microbes especially nitrogen capturing fungi. Reliance on genetically engineered seeds means that only few seeds are available as against varieties that have been known over time.
This trend will destroy natural selection as changes in seed quality will depend on what humans want. Genetically- modified Bt endotoxin remains in the soil at least 18 months after harvest and can be transported to wild plants creating superweeds – resistant to butterfly, moth, and beetle pests – potentially disturbing the balance of nature.
A study in Denmark and UK showed superweeds growing nearby in just one generation. A US study showed the superweed resistant to glufosinate (which differs from glyphosate) to be just as fertile as non-polluted weeds.
Also GM trees or “supertrees” are being developed which can kill literally all life around it. Such trees will destroy our natural forest where a single tree is habitat to thousands of animals and lower plants.
Yet again, experiments indicate that common plant pests such as cottonboll worms will evolve into superpests which are immune to Bt sprays used by organic farmers.
Fish and marine life are threatened by accidental release of GM fish currently under development in several countries – trout, carp, and salmon several times the normal size and growing up to 6x times as fast.
Read Also : Benefits of Biotechnology Application to Agriculture
One such accident has already occurred in the Philippines – threatening local fish supplies. Studies have shown that GM products can kill beneficial insects – most notably the monarch butterfly larvae.
Bt crops genetically engineered to kill insect pests such as cotton worms, also kill non- target insects like lacewings, honeybees, springtails and ladybird beetles.
In a study with GM potatoes, spliced with DNA from the snowdrop plant and a viral promoter (CaMV), the resulting plant was poisonous to mammals (rats) – damaging vital organs, the stomach lining and immune system.
CaMV is a pararetrovirus. It can reactivate dormant viruses or create new viruses – as some presume have occurred with the AIDES epidemic. CaMV is promiscuous with very wide adverse consequences.
Accidents of biotechnology could be disastrous as happened with the pig number 6706 supposed to be a “superpig, ” but which eventually became a “supercripple” full of arthritis, cross-eyed, and could barely stand up with its mutated body.
Accidents of this nature when released to the environment may cause more problems than it can solve. There is also a potent fear of polluting the environment with genetic engineered pest such as GM pollen now being carried by wind, rain, birds, bees, insects, fungus, bacteria.
Once released, unlike chemical pollution, there is no cleanup or recall possible. Thus there is no containing such genetic pollution. Experiments in Germany have shown that engineered oilseed can have its pollen move over 200 meters.
As a result German farmers have sued to stop field trials in Berlin. In Thailand, the government stopped field tests for Monsanto’s Bt cotton when it was discovered by the Institute of Traditional Thai Medicine that 16 nearby plants of the cotton family, used by traditional healers, were being genetically polluted.
US research showed that more than 50% of wild strawberries growing inside of 50 meters of a GM strawberry field assumed GM gene markers. Another showed that 25-38% of wild sunflowers growing near GM crops had GM gene markers.
A recent study in England showed that despite the tiny amount of GM plantings there (33,750 acres over two years compared to 70-80 million acres per year in the US) wild honey was found to be contaminated.
This means that bees and other insects are likely to pollinate organic plants and trees with transgenic elements.
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