The following is an excerpt of a blog post on the BiotechNow website highlighting some of the benefits of genetically engineered cotton.
Genetic engineering doesn’t harm the environment; quite the contrary, because it reduces the spraying of insecticides and increases yields, conserving water and arable farmland. Not only has genetically modified food not harmed anyone, but it is offering products that appeal directly to consumers, such as flowers with extended shelf life, potatoes that don’t bruise and apples that don’t turn brown when sliced.
Bluejeans are another example. Genetic engineers have developed a way to produce the two principal components, cotton fabric and indigo dye, for less money and soon will make commercial bluejean production cheaper than ever.
Genetically engineered cotton is created by introducing into the plant a new gene from a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. The bacterial gene expresses a protein that is toxic to certain insects but not to humans or other mammals. The concept isn’t new: Live Bt bacteria, first approved in the United States in 1961, are used by home gardeners and commercial farmers and boasts an admirable record of safety and effectiveness.
Bt cotton helps farmers to control major pests – the cotton and pink bollworm and the tobacco budworm – which account for a quarter of all crop destruction due to insects. From 1996 through 2014, this technology increased cotton yields by an average of 17.3 percent, according to a study by British economists Peter Barfoot and Graham Brookes.
To read the entire post, please visit BiotechNow.