Impact of Genetic Engineering on the Environment
Impact of genetic engineering on the environment can be seen when genetically engineered organisms or plants are planted in the field. For instance, agriculture has always converted the biologically diverse wetlands, natural grasslands as well as native forests making them agriculturally productive agro-ecosystems that are less diverse than the initial natural environments.
The agro-ecosystems produced by agricultural activities are used in the production of fiber, food and feed. Impact of genetic engineering on the environment is greatly dependent on the intensity with which the genetically engineered crops will be cultivated. It also depends on inputs that will be required by the genetically engineered plants such as pesticides and fertilizers.
In addition, impact that genetically engineered organism have on the environment depends of how farming practices are managed. These include how farm inputs in the field where the plants are grown are managed as well as tillage practices and disposal or use of crop residue.
Just like with other crops, genetically engineered crops will have negative effects on the environment if fertilizers, pesticides, tillage and other inputs and products are not managed properly. The negative effects of poor production and management of genetically engineered crops can be seen in the biodiversity, water and soil.
However, if environmental friendly approaches will be taken such as crop rotations, no-tillage systems, and integrated pest management among others, genetically engineered organisms will not have adverse effects on the environment.
Nevertheless, there are several environmental risks that some environmentalists have raised issues about regarding genetically engineered organisms. For instance, some environmentalists note that when unlike genetic materials are combined through genetic engineering, new organisms are created.
When these organisms such as the newly created or genetically engineered crops are grown in the field by farmers they risk contaminating the GE material of the wild plants. The results of this pollution or act are not known to anybody including those supporting genetic engineering.
According to some environmentalists, long term impact of this pollution may include adverse effects on insects, plants and animals as well as decline of biodiversity. Various scientific experts have raised their concern in the international forums on the environmental effects of genetic engineering.
Although no evidence has been produced so far, some people argue that consumption of produce from genetically engineered crops or organisms expose humans and animals to the risk of developing certain diseases including cancer. According to them, genetic engineering poses a serious risk to the environment, human health and agriculture.
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