Which of the following is a disadvantage of creating genetically modified crops? (A) Genetically modified crops have been widely discredited as viable sources of food for humans and can only be fed to livestock. (B) Genetically modified crops generally contain lower amounts of vitamins and minerals than naturally grown crops. (C) Genetically modified crops have to be treated with larger volumes of pesticides than organic crops. Or (D) genetically modified crops face resistance from some farmers, campaign groups, and countries who do not want them grown.
This question is asking us about genetically modified crops and their disadvantages. So, what is a genetically modified crop? Let’s clear the answer choices so we have more room to work with. Genetic modification or genetic engineering is the artificial manipulation of an organism’s genome. The genome is all the genetic material of an organism. Genetic modification of crops is done to introduce desirable traits.
Let’s look at some examples of this technology and their advantages. For example, a genetically modified version of rice, called golden rice, allows this rice plant to produce high levels of vitamin A, which aren’t normally present. Vitamin A is important for a range of factors, including growth and eye and respiratory health. So golden rice can be especially beneficial in developing countries where vitamin A deficiencies are common and rice is abundant.
Another example of genetic modification introduces a gene that gives a plant, like this corn plant here, insect resistance. This allows farmers to use less pesticides, which can be very harmful to the environment. It might sound like these genetically modified crops aren’t safe to eat. But rest assured, they’ve passed all kinds of safety assessments before being released to the public. And they are indeed believed to be safe for human consumption. Despite this, this technology still has its disadvantages. Let’s look at a couple of examples now.
Genetic modification introduces desirable traits that can possibly be transferred to unwanted species. For instance, some crops can be engineered to be resistant to herbicides. Herbicides are chemicals that are toxic to plants and are used to remove unwanted weeds that surround the crop. But what if this herbicide resistance was somehow passed on to the weed? Then, this might create what’s called a superweed. This superweed would be very difficult to control because it would be resistant to the toxic effect of the herbicide.
Because some of these genetic modifications are new to the plant and to the humans who are eating them, there’s also the possibility of allergic reactions in people. Because of these reasons and others, there is resistance among certain groups and countries regarding the use of genetically modified crops. Therefore, a disadvantage of creating genetically modified crops is that genetically modified crops face resistance from some farmers, campaign groups, and countries who do not want them grown.