Farm Testing

GMOs and Your Health Part 4: Saving the World One Plant at a Time

There have been several instances where genetic modification is the only option in efforts to improve and save industries. In Bangladesh, eggplants are widely popular (“Are GMOs Good or Bad”). The majority of the time, large parts of the harvest were being destroyed by insect pests. This caused the use of insecticide to skyrocket. Not only was this practice very expensive but it also caused the farmers to get sick. In 2013, eggplants were genetically modified so they had insecticide in their DNA. The use of insecticide went down by 80% and the income of farmers increased due to the new eggplants.

The Papaya Crisis of the 1990s

The papaya industry is large in the state of Hawaii. In the 1990s though, the industry was on the verge of collapsing. Most of the papaya plants were wiped out by the ringspot virus. The ringspot virus causes discoloration of the fruit and molting of leaves (Paya). Other symptoms of the virus are lowered quality, bad taste, lowered crop size, and loss of plant vigor. The virus is spread by aphids which are sap-sucking insects. When the aphids eat from a contaminated plant their mouths become contaminated as well. When they move to another plant and eat from it, they infect the plant with the virus. To stop the spread of the ringspot virus, scientists modified the plant so that it was vaccinated against the ringspot virus and saved the industry in the process.

Changing for the Better

By using genetically modified plants we can lessen our impact on the world. We can modify them so that they absorb more carbon and therefore lower how much we affect our atmosphere. By turning more plants into carbon vacuums, we may be able to reverse climate change. Fertilizers are another way we are having a negative impact on our world. Whatever does not get used by our plants goes into our aquifers and pollutes them. By modifying plants to attract nitrogen, a large part of fertilizers, from the air we can solve two problems. We can lessen the use of fertilizers in developed countries and use what we don’t need in developing nations.

Advancing farming techniques, we can use fewer resources like land and water. This can slow down practices like deforestation and water pollution. Using genetically modified plants and other organisms properly, we can not only lessen our impact on the earth and its atmosphere but potentially reverse some of the negative effects we have had.  

Click here to read part one, two, and three of this series.

Sources

“Are GMOs Good or Bad? Genetic Engineering & Our Food.” Are GMOs Good or Bad? Genetic Engineering & Our Food, Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell , 30 Mar. 2017, www.youtube.com/user/Kurzgesagt.

“Papaya Ringspot Disease: Overview.” Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, 22 May 2017, www.daf.qld.gov.au/plants/health-pests-diseases/a-z-significant/papaya-ringspot-disease.

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