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Are GMOs good or bad? Show more Show less
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GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are organisms (plants and animals) that have had specific genes from a different species inserted into its own DNA. This results in the crop having new desirable features. Examples include papayas that are virus-resistant or corn that is herbicide-resistant. Our food has been genetically modified since the first GMO tomato (Flvr Svr) in the early 1990s. The acceptance of GMOs has varied between countries; the United States, Argentina, and Canada have quickly adopted GMOs while the EU countries have passed stricter legislation. There is a heated debate over whether GMOs are good or bad for our health, environment, world hunger, and the economy.

GMOs are bad Show more Show less

GMOs come with legal/economic risks (research restrictions and lawsuits against farmers) and health risks (increased amount of toxic herbicide on the crops and unintended DNA changes). The increased use of herbicide and decreased biodiversity associated with GMOs are also harmful to the environment.
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GMOs are harmful to the environment

GMOs led to an increase in the use of herbicides, which have toxic chemicals that get into the water supply. GMOs also decrease biodiversity by homogenizing the seeds.

The Argument

There are several ways that GMOs are harmful to the environment. First, herbicide-resistant crops resulted in a massive increase in the use of herbicides like glyphosate (a probable carcinogen) because they can spray to kill the weeds and not worry about damaging the crops.[1] The increase of herbicide-resistant crops is creating a rapid increase in superweeds that are resistant to herbicide leading to farmers having to do more tillage (which erodes the soil) and use even stronger herbicides.[2]These herbicides hurt the animals and then get into the water. Another problem is that the widespread use of GMOs is destroying crop biodiversity. For example, the U.S. has lost 6,000 out of 7,000 of its apple varieties.[2]This is detrimental to our agriculture and the ecosystem.

Counter arguments

GMOs result in less tillage (which removes nutrients from the soil and causes erosion) to address weeds since the crops are herbicide-resistant.[3] GMOs are also good for the environment because they use fewer pesticides and waste less water. Modifying crops to be pest-resistant means that there is less need to use pesticides. These pesticides are harmful to the environment and to animals such as honeybees and monarch butterflies.[4] Crops can also be modified to be drought resistant which would help to waste less water.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] Herbicide-resistant crops meant that farmers could spray more herbicide to kill weeds. [P2] Weeds became resistant to the herbicide. [P3] Farmers had to use stronger herbicides or do more tillage (which erodes the soil). [P4] These toxic chemicals get into the water and hurt the animals. [P5] GMOs are destroying biodiversity by homogenizing the seeds.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P3] GMOs result in less tillage since the crops are herbicide-resistant.

References

  1. https://www.ewg.org/agmag/2016/03/are-gmos-bad-environment
  2. https://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/reports/1770/seed-giants-vs-us-farmers
  3. https://medium.com/@debunkingdenialism/five-ways-gmos-benefit-the-environment-c48eee7e2765
  4. https://ag.purdue.edu/GMOs/Pages/GMOsandInsects.aspx

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This page was last edited on Sunday, 13 Sep 2020 at 16:39 UTC

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