What are pesticides and how do they work? Welch, C. (2015). (2005). But the question remains: What impact do GM foods have on our health? Bt protein spray, which is a crop protection method that uses the Bt protein described earlier, is allowed in organic farming because it originates from a naturally occurring bacterium. James, C., (2014). National Geographic. World Health Organization. © 2020 Debating Science. Plos One, 6(10), e25014. United States Energy Information Administration. Thus, with HT crops, the reduction of tillage sustains soil health and overall integrity for continued use while also providing economic benefits to the farmers who grow them. Royte, E. (2013). Studies have shown that pesticide-producing crops contaminate nearby streams, cross-pollination from genetically modified plants contaminates organic crops, and whole species of insects and other important organisms are disappearing due to the toxins produced by GMO foods. (2014). Global Hunger Index. GM crops reduce the use of pesticides and decrease the carbon footprint of farming without affecting critical soil diversity. Retrieved from http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/pesticides/pestwhatrhow.htm. A somewhat controversial solution that would provide enough food for the world without inducing significant harm on the environment is genetically modified (GM) crops. von Grebmer, K., Bernstein, J., de Waal, A., Prasai, N., Yin, S., Yohannes, Y. Course Blog of Junior Year Writing in the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This leaves two alternatives – either grow crops using pesticides which are known to harm the environment, or grow GM crops that innately ward off pests. The president of the German Professional Beekeepers’ Association, Manfred Hederer stated, “50-60% of the bees have died on average and some beekeepers have lost all their hives” (Benjamin, 2008, para. There was not a dramatic difference between spiders exposed to conventional maize (without Baythroid) and those exposed to GM Bt maize, but  Baythroid caused significant harm to this beneficial spider species. Retrieved from https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/increasing-public-access-results-scientific-research. USDA. National Research Council. R. Uauy. Reducing Tillage to Save Fuel. However, growing conventional crops on a large scale requires the use of chemicals, such as pesticides, that harm the environment. Comparing the yields of organic and conventional agriculture. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/docrep/009/a0100e/a0100e00.HTM. EIA. AgBioForum, 12(3&4), 346-357. Retrieved from http://www.agbioforum.org/v12n34/v12n34a10-duke.htm. Your email address will not be published. Case studies: A hard look at GM crops. The reduction of diesel fuel is a result of reduced field operations that are necessary to carry out application of pesticides, whether it was insecticide or herbicide (Phipps & Park, 2002). Environmental Protection Agency. You currently have JavaScript disabled in your web browser, please enable JavaScript to view our website as intended. Unlike selective breeding, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are produced by introducing a beneficial target gene into an organism (World Health Organization [WHO], 2015). If we grow GM crops will they cross breed with other plants? The post-GMO economy. How much carbon dioxide is produced by burning gasoline and diesel fuel. One important environmental impact of genetically modified (GM) foods is the threat to biodiversity resulting from the genetic transfer from GM crops to native plant species. Duke, S., Powles, S.B. Benjamin, A. Pesticides are a significant concern to the environment, but using conventional crops without pesticides is extremely impractical. ISAAA Brief 49. By negatively impacting non-target organisms on land, in the soil, and in the water, pesticides have huge deleterious effects on the environment (Aktar, Sengupta & Chowdhury, 2009). Ecological Indicators, 52, 498-516. doi: 10. (2012). (2015). All rights reserved, Genetically modified (GM) plants: questions and answers. Genetically modified (GM) plants: questions and answers Crops do not damage the environment simply because they are GM. Damage to wildlife can be reduced if a small amount of agricultural land is set aside for biodiversity. doi: 10.2499/9780896299641. Soil integrity is lost and organic matter can very easily be lost to erosion and runoff, leaving the farmland non-arable (not suitable for growing crops). Long-term variations in soil organic matter under different tillage intensities. Farmers using conventional crops resort to tilling their land to get rid of weeds before their crops come up. To put this in perspective, the 132 million hectares that would have to be cleared for the use of conventional crops is equal to 273.6 million football fields, or slightly larger than the country of Peru. This residual plant material inhibits light from hitting the seeds of weed species, which prevents germination and the movement of weed seeds by equipment (Bot & Benites, 2005). Retrieved from: http://modernfarmer.com/2013/12/post-gmo-economy/. In 2008, pesticide use on corn crops in Germany had unprecedented effects on bee populations. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPLICATIONS. In addition to reduced tillage and decreased carbon emissions, GM crops also have a neutral effect on soil organism diversity. Plos One, 9(11), e111629. Soil particles, W., & Qaim, M., & Grubinger V. ( 2012 ) farmers that reduce can! 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