Biotechnology is a fairly new form of technology, but the idea is not something that is brand new. People have been using biotechnology in some way for thousands of years in order to improve the plants that they grow, the livestock that they care for, and the foods that are eating. Selective breeding and cross-pollination are early forms of biotechnology. Today, however, this field has taken on new forms that have some pros and cons that must be considered before we go all-in with this technology.
Pros of Biotechnology
1. It increases the nutritional value of the foods that are produced.
Biotechnology can help to enhance the vitamins and minerals that are eaten every day so people have a better overall diet without making additional lifestyle changes. This means that more people can be fed without fewer food products and this could work to end world hunger.
2. Biotechnology allows crops to grow in different climates.
There is an incredible amount of land on this planet that is under-utilized for growing food. Through the science of biotechnology, it becomes possible to take advantage of colder, shorter growing seasons so that more overall calories can be produced from a global perspective.
3. It reduces the damage to foods because of pest invasions.
Biotechnology can help to design plants that are naturally resistant to the pests and diseases that may affect an entire crop supply. This allows for a more guaranteed crop on an annual basis no matter what the weather or pest conditions of an area might be.
Cons of Biotechnology
1. It is extremely hard on the soil.
Biotechnology creates plants that tap into more of the soil’s resources and drains its ability to continue growing crops in the future. Even when crop rotations are used, it can take several years for crop lands to recover from just 2-3 years of biotechnology enhanced crops being grown.
2. It may cause other plants to be modified unexpectedly.
All plants have some level of cross-pollination that occurs. When plants that have been engineered through biotechnology come into contact with “normal” plants, the hybrids that are created may not be sustainable. Biotechnology firms have even sued farmers who have suffered from cross-pollination in circumstances like these.
3. There is no cost-savings that occurs.
It costs just as much to grow plants or livestock that have been engineered through biotechnology as it does regular plants. This means that the farmer still has the same costs and so does the consumer.
By evaluating the pros and cons of biotechnology, each grower or farmer can decide if pursuing the modern forms of crop and livestock manipulation or worth pursuing. If the advantages outweigh the disadvantages on an individual level, then biotechnology may be something that some may wish to pursue.