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Genetically Modified Crops: Definition and Characteristics

Discuss about the Impact of the Genetically modified crops on the Environment and economy of Developing Countries. 

The genetically modified crops or GM crops are defined as the crops that are modified through genetic engineering. The DNA of the crops is modified in order to provide new characteristics to the plant, which is not present in the species naturally. Such improved characteristics include resistance to harmful pesticide and herbicide, resistance to some extreme environmental condition, Improvement of nutrient provided by the crop, less spoilage and any others. The most common genetically modified crops include corn, soy, alfalfa, canola, zucchini and sugar beets. According to researchers, genetically modified crops have no grater harm factors than common food. It is important to examine the GM crops case-by-case prior to the introduction in the market. Introduction of GM crops helps to increase the productivity of the agriculture and reduces the use of harmful pesticides. However, there are some cons of using GM crops, for example, it can cause hazards to the health condition of individual such as allergies from toxicity. Due to such issue some countries restrict the access of GM crops, where as some nations allow the access of Gm crops with appropriate regulations. It is notified by some experts that, in the developing countries, profit is higher due to GM crops than the developed countries. The research paper will focus on the impacts of GM crops on the economy and environment of the developing countries and will provide information regarding the regulation of genetically modified organisms or GMO. 


The genetically modified crops are spreading rapidly across the world and people are accepting the technology of genetic engineering in order to improve the traits of natural crops. It is one of the most researchable facts in the modern society and researchers are trying to improve their study in order to bring innovation regarding the GM crops. `The government and the biotech industries are promoting the benefits of using genetically modified crops in order to improve economic condition.  According to the statistics, developing countries are benefited more than developed countries due to allow the access of GM crops. 38% of the global crop areas are covered by developing countries. They are allowing the cultivation of genetically modified crops in order to become competitive in the global market. However, the rate of gain is higher for the biotech industries than the farmers and consumers. The intervention of genetically modified crops in agriculture has remarkable impact on the economy of a country. Farmers who utilize the technology and cultivate GM crops have experienced higher effective productivity, revenue, and lower of pesticide. Chinese farmers were facing problem in cultivating cotton, as they had to spend a huge amount of money in the process of pest control. After the intervention of genetic engineering, 7.5 million farmers grow genetically modified cotton known as IR cotton. Such adaptation helps them to achieve higher yield, lower cost and an overall profit. In order to increase the productivity and profitability, 83% farmers in Mexico has adopted the cultivation of IR cotton. The cultivation of HT soya in Argentina has increased the productivity and profitability of the country by 10% approx. A comparison between IR maize and non-IR maize has shown that, the farmers who aloe the GM crop has experienced higher yield and profitability that the farmers who has rejected the process. Nevertheless, there are many negative aspects of using genetically modified crops in agriculture, which can affect the economic condition of a country negatively. In order to achieve high profitability, most of the biotech companies use patent to protect their rights. Introduction of patent results in the rise of price of the seeds to an extent. Thus, farmers and the small-scale farms are facing difficulties in purchasing such high rated seeds, as they are not able to afford it. The biotech companies are forced the farmers and the small-scale farms to accept the patent. According to some farmers, the biotech companies are inserting some suicidal gene into the seeds, hence the plant sustains only for a single growing season. The farmers have to buy new seed in order to cultivate the same genetically modified crop. Due to purchasing seeds per year, farmers and the small-scale farms are facing enormous economic challenges. Consumer cost is another fact that could affect the economic condition of a country. Enforcement of patent leads to increasing price of the food products derived from the genetically modified crops. However, people are more health conscious in these days, thus they would prefer to spend money on organic food rather than genetically modified crops. Such incident could affect the profitability of the biotech companies, farmers and the small-scale farms as well. The use of genetically modified crops in order to increase the net yield and improve the economic condition is a controversial issue. Although farmers are experiencing benefits in some developing countries, it is important to allow them to access innovation regarding GM crops in agriculture. The government and the biotech companies need to take effective initiatives in order to resolve such issues. It could help the nations to grow genetically modified crops efficiently. Through addressing the issues related to genetically modified crops, a country could experience economic prosperity and higher productivity. 

Overview of the Benefits and Drawbacks of Genetically Modified Crops


Introduction of genetically modified crops in the agriculture has brought tremendous change in the environment. The technology has introduced a farming process, which is environment friendly and has allowed the farmers to grow improved agricultural product with the use of less resource. The DNA of the genetically modified crops is designed in such a way that they are resistant to pest and environmental conditions, hence, such modification helps to reduce the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides. Using harmful pesticides in the agricultural field is one of the main reason behind polluting soil and water as well. Thus, the genetically modified crops are contributing to decrease the soil and water pollution by reducing the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides. It plays an important role in reducing the pollution of developing country such as India, where rate of pollution is higher. The technology of modifying crops plays an important role in decrease the rate of releasing green house gas from agricultural practice. Green house gas is the most harmful factor related to air pollution and methane is one of such dangerous gas, which is released from paddy field. Using genetically modified crops has reduced the occurrence of such incident effectively. Thus, the crop biotechnology is playing a remarkable role in order to reduce air pollution. Air born disease is common in most of the developing countries, by reducing the air pollution it helps to improve the air quality which in return could reduce the possibilities of air born diseases, thus providing healthy environment in order to live healthy life. Tillage is a process that has been done before planting seeds in the agricultural field. The process results in increased carbon footprint in agriculture and also cause soil erosion. Implementation of biotechnology in agriculture has reduced the use of tillage process in farming. This innovation has decreased the carbon footprint in agriculture and it has reduced the rate of soil erosion by water, air and others environmental factors. Reduce in carbon footprint helps to reduce the amount of pollution by carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. According to research, reducing the tillage process through cultivation of genetically modified crops has removed 27 billion kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The improved cultivation process helps to conserve the natural resource such as water. Most of the genetically modified crops need less water in order being mature than the common crops. Water management is relatively poor in developing countries, thus, the improved process contributes in water conservation while gives huge amount of production of crops. Air pollution, water pollution, soil erosion, emission of carbon dioxide play critical role in changing the climate of the world. By reducing such risk factors, the process of farming genetically modified crops helps us from the drastic effects of climate change. Thus, the farmers who cultivate GM crops are combating climate change in an effective manner through incorporating efficient farming process. Mercury, lead, selenium and other organic matters are released from industrial wastes and mixed with the agricultural land, hence results in soil contamination. The genetically modified crops cultivation in bioremediation of the contaminated soil, a process through which treatment of contaminated soil is done in order to stimulate the growing organisms and remove the harmful pollutants from the soil. Biodiversity is one of the important factors of environment. Insects, pests and weeds are also a part of biodiversity. In the cultivation process of common crops, pesticides, insecticides and herbicides are used to control them in order to produce healthy crops. The introduction of genetically modified crops, which have the modified genes that can resist pests, insects and weeds as well, has reduced the use of chemical products in the agricultural land. It helps to maintain sustainable biodiversity. However, there is a controversial issue regarding cultivation of genetically modified crops. Study has shown that, proteins produced by the genetically modified crops, especially the Cry protein, are easily degradable. It can contaminate the water source near to the agricultural field and can disrupt the aquatic environment. Many environmental problems can occur during the cultivation of common crops. Funding for environment is comparatively less in the developing countries, thus, cultivation of genetically modified crops plays an important role in resolving environmental problems. 

Impact of Genetically Modified Crops on the Economy of Developing Countries


Genetically modified organisms or GMO are the organisms that are modified in order to produce genetically modified crops, genetically modified fish, pharmaceutical purpose and others research purpose. The genetic material in these organisms is modified through the process of genetic engineering technology. There are some threats regarding the use of genetically modified crops, especially used in making foods. For example, as the crops are genetically modified, there is a risk of undergoing mutation. Another risk is, allergy can occur for the toxicity of some products. Some researchers have mentioned that the health risk is not greater in using genetically modified crops than the common crops. Hence, some nations restricted the use of genetically modified organisms and access of genetically modified crops. Whereas, most of the nations have allowed the technology in agriculture with some regulations. Such regulations are adopted by the nations  in order to manage the risk factors related to the use of genetically modified crops. The regulations are implemented by the government organizations such as Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and others. Mostly the developing countries have accepted the intervention of technology in agriculture with effective regulations. The purpose of implementation of such regulation is to ensure the safety related to the health of individual and the environment as well. According to some regulation act, the biotech companies must assess the risk factors of the modified organisms before using that in order to produce genetically modified seeds. The companies have to introduce a classification system which is based on the risk factors of the modified organisms to understand the nature and level of risks. It is required to inform about the premises used in the technology to the health and environment safety department. The first Asian country that has accepted the cultivation of genetically modified crops is Philippine. Regulations related to the use of genetically modified organisms to introduce new traits are different according to the different countries. For example, in Brazil, court rulings has banned the cultivation of genetically modified crops, but the farmers still cultivated the GM soya anyway, thus, the cultivation of Gm soya is legalized in Brazil. In Mexico, cultivation of genetically modified cotton is allowed, whereas, the cultivation of genetically modified corn is banned. China has accepted the cultivation of genetically modified crops widely and the nation is trying to introduce genetically modified crops with their own variety. The Indian government has approved the genetically modified cotton and the country is trying to develop the research regarding the genetically modified local crops such as mastered, potato and rice. In contrast, in South Africa, cultivation of genetically modified crops is allowed only in the developed commercial sectors. There are some developing countries where cultivation of genetically modified crops is banned but the import of such crops is allowed, for example, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Poland, Belize, Turkey, Hungary and Saudi Arabia. In many developing countries, both the cultivation and the import of genetically modified crops has banned by the government, for example, Algeria, Madagascar, Bhutan, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and Russia. Such regulations play an important role in order to ensure the health of individual and protect the environmental condition. 

Negative Aspects of Using Genetically Modified Crops in Agriculture


From the above research paper, it can be concluded that, genetically modified crops have many beneficial characteristics such as, resistance to the insects, pests and many environmental factors, improved nutrition profile and many others. The cultivation process is less cost effective as there is no need to use any pesticide or herbicide and it gives higher productivity and profitability. Study has shown that, the developing countries are more beneficial than the developed countries. In the developing countries, economy sector is highly influenced by the intervention of genetically modified crops. Biotech companies, small-scale farms and the farmers are accepting the modern technology in agriculture. However, it has been proved that, rate of benefit is greater for the biotech companies than the farmers and small-scale farms. There is some difficulties regarding the patent enforced by the companies. Implementation of patent leads to the increase of price of the seeds, thus, the farmers and small-scale farms are facing problems in affording the purchase. Thus, the impact of genetically modified crops on the economy of developing countries is controversial. On the other hand, GM crops have positive impact on the environment of developing countries, as they help to reduce the use of harmful insecticides and herbicides, thus, helps to reduce pollution. However, there are some risks of using GM crops, thus, many developing countries have prohibited the cultivation. Although most of the developing countries have accepted the process trough some regulation of using GMO in order to ensure the safety of health and environment. 

References:

Azadi, Hossein, et al. "Genetically modified crops and small-scale farmers: main opportunities and challenges." Critical reviews in biotechnology 36.3 (2016): 434-446.

Barrows, Geoffrey, Steven Sexton, and David Zilberman. "Agricultural biotechnology: the promise and prospects of genetically modified crops." Journal of Economic Perspectives28.1 (2014): 99-120.

Bennett, Alan B., et al. "Agricultural biotechnology: economics, environment, ethics, and the future." Annual Review of Environment and Resources 38 (2013): 249-279.

Brookes, Graham, and Peter Barfoot. "Global income and production impacts of using GM crop technology 1996–2014." GM crops & food 7.1 (2016): 38-77.

Embrapa, Paulo A. Vianna Barroso, Mr Eduardo Roman, and Mrs Luz Amparo Fonseca. "Report of the round table for biotechnology in cotton." (2013).

Gibbs, Kelsey. "Patenting Genes: Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)." (2015).

Hakim, Danny. "Doubts about the promised bounty of genetically modified crops." New York Times 29 (2016).

Huesing, Joseph E., et al. "Global adoption of genetically modified (GM) crops: challenges for the public sector." Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 64.2 (2016): 394-402.

Jacobsen, Sven-Erik, et al. "Feeding the world: genetically modified crops versus agricultural biodiversity." Agronomy for sustainable development 33.4 (2013): 651-662.

James, Clive. "Global status of commercialized biotech/GM crops: 2014." ISAAA brief 49 (2015).

Jones, Huw D. "Regulatory uncertainty over genome editing." Nature plants 1 (2015): 14011.

Kamle, Suchitra, and Sher Ali. "Genetically modified crops: detection strategies and biosafety issues." Gene 522.2 (2013): 123-132.

Kumar, Sanjay. "India eases stance on GM crop trials." (2015): 138-139.

Larsson, Tomas. "Who catches the biotech train? Understanding diverging political responses to GMOs in Southeast Asia." The Journal of Peasant Studies 43.5 (2016): 1068-1094.

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Mabubu, Juma Ibrahim, Muhammad Nawaz, and Hongxia Hua. "Advances of transgenic Bt-crops in insect pest management: An overview." Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies 4.3 (2016): 48-52.

Okigbo, R. N., J. C. Iwube, and Ramesh R. Putheti. "An extensive review on genetically modified (GM) foods for substanable development in Africa." (2015).

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Vigani, Mauro, and Alessandro Olper. "GMO standards, endogenous policy and the market for information." Food Policy 43 (2013): 32-43.

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