By Liiban Hersi
Genetically modified (GM) plants have been a topic of controversy for decades. Arguments have been made about their effect on ecosystems and the human body, and the positives that they yield such as an improved shelf life, and improved nutrients. However it is clear that with a growing population in dire need of more food sources, GM plants are necessary. In addition to supplying an increasing demand in food, GM plants also offer more benefits than disadvantages.
Many plants have been genetically modified to be resistant to pathogens, herbicides, and pests. This leads to less of a requirement to use herbicides and pesticides, which in turn lessens the impact on the environment. They have also proven to yield better quality crops, and more nutrients than their counterparts. Such as with golden rice, which was engineered to biosynthesize beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. Furthermore, genetic modification to plants has proven to increase shelf life and ripening time, such is the case with the ‘Flavr Savr’ tomato. In addition to all this, some plants have been modified to be stress resistant, meaning that they fare better in extreme situations such as drought better than plants that have not been modified.
Counterarguments as to why GM plants should not be used are often weak and can be dismantled easily. Such as the point claiming that we shouldn’t ‘play god’. However humans have been selectively cultivating plants for years, only choosing the best crops to continue growing. Crops that were bigger, more nutritious, and/or tasted better were the criteria for this, and it is the same criteria used in genetic modification.