Qwhy is GMO important for human society

why is GMO important for human society

AExpert Answer

Human society is supported by its ability to produce sufficient food for the total population while at the same time not using up or degrading the capacity to continue to produce that amount of food in the future. This requires us to “sustainably intensify” our agricultural methods to increase the yields on currently farmed land and minimize the expansion of agriculture onto additional wild lands and forests. Expanding agriculture increases production but has negative impacts on biodiversity, carbon release to the atmosphere, soil erosion and nutrient losses. Instead, obtaining more food value from the same amount of land requires more efficient crop plants, such as crops that make better use of fertilizers and water, have stronger resistance to pests and disease, and store more reserves and nutrients in the crop components (e.g., seeds, fruits) harvested for food.


Genetic engineering can contribute to all of these goals. Research has already demonstrated the potential to develop crops with increased nutrient-use efficiency, greater drought and flooding resistance, stronger disease and insect resistance and higher nutritional content and yield. Why should human society not use this ability to improve crops in order to feed all of our still-growing population while striving to minimize the impact of food production on the global environment? The current crops and practices are not adequate to meet the challenges of the future, and going back to methods of the past that were unable to feed even half of the current human population is not the answer. What technologies that were controversial when first introduced would we be willing to give up now: vaccines, antibiotics, vitamins, organ transplants, water treatment, sanitation, telephones, Internet, etc.? These scientific discoveries and technological advances have all contributed to the improved health and well-being of human society, but there is nothing more fundamental to the future of humanity than adequate and nutritious food. Given the challenges we are facing in this century, both socially and environmentally, we urgently need to apply our best science and technology to the most important thing that every human must do every day: eat.

AExpert Answer

Society has the responsibility of using science, rather than hype, to inform regulation, policy and scientific strategies to develop crops that can continue providing us with safe foods. In 2013, the World Food Prize was awarded to the pioneering scientists who developed modern agricultural biotechnology. Biotechnology crops have provided significant economic benefit to millions of consumers, reduced agriculturally related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reduced soil erosion and substantially decreased the use of many toxic agricultural chemicals. Unfortunately, this polarized debate is not conducive to developing integrated approaches, which may include precision farming, organic practices and biotechnologies, to continue feeding the growing population in a sustainable manner.

Posted on January 31, 2018
Thank you for your question. There are various aspects of your question. I assume your question refers to the use of Agrobacterium rhizogenes by scientists to intentionally transfer genes from the bacterium to plants. Infection and DNA transfer from this bacterium occurs in nature all the time to cause disease. Such transformed plants are not classified as GMOs since transfer occurred naturally. If this is done by scientists then it would be classified as a GMO. Rules and... Read More
Posted on March 1, 2018
I’m a Monsanto scientist who has more than 20 years of experience with genetic modification of plants. I will try to answer your question, even though I don’t ever do experiments on animals, certainly not on humans, of course! Can humans be genetically modified…but a much bigger question is should humans be genetically modified? There are two ways to think about genetic modification of humans (or any animal). One way is modification of somatic cells, and the other is the... Read More
Posted on May 10, 2017
The simple answer is that 20+ years of composition assessments of GMO crops have demonstrated that crop composition is not appreciably affected by the GM process (1). In addition, data collected through that time have indicated that general factors such as the growth environment can contribute to notable variation in component levels (2). Plant agglutinins (or lectins) and amylase inhibitors are examples of anti-nutritional compounds that may be present in crops. The relevance of such a... Read More