What are the advantages and disadvantages of Genetically Modified or GM Crops?

The genetic engineering is one of the great marvels of 21st century human. It allowed for precise control over the genetic changes introduced into an organism. They are basically biological altered organism. In this article, we are giving the meaning, advantages and disadvantages of Genetically Modified or GM Crops which will be useful for the UPSC-prelims, SSC, State Services, NDA, CDS, and Railways etc.
Updated: Mar 14, 2018 19:03 IST
What are the advantages and disadvantages of Genetically Modified or GM Crops?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of Genetically Modified or GM Crops?

The genetic engineering is one of the great marvels of 21st century human. It allowed for precise control over the genetic changes introduced into an organism. Today, we can incorporate new genes from one species into a completely unrelated species through genetic engineering, optimizing agricultural performance or facilitating the production of valuable pharmaceutical substances. In India, GM plants like GM Cotton, BT Brinjal and GM Mustard are experimented, but the government refused to allow it to be commercialized. Recently, the government of India has examined a proposal on GM mustard seeds despite there being severe opposition to it among environmental activists.

What is Genetically Modified or GM Crops?

Genetically Modified or GM Crops are that type of plants whose DNA has been modified through genetic engineering for imbedding a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species. Foods produced from or using GM organisms are often referred to as GM foods.

Advantages of Genetically Modified or GM Crops

1. It improves production and raise farmer's income. Indian farmers are still practicing traditional process of seeding and cultivation, which required scientific moves for raising their production. Hence, it is one of the moves to enhance the farm production.

2. It reduces the use of pesticide and insecticide during farming that might be great moves for the betterment of the food supply.

3. It can feed a rapidly increasing population because it shows dramatically increased yields.

4. It can produce more in small area of land.

5. India introduced Bt cotton seeds in 2002. It has greatly reduced the use of toxic pesticides. Bt cotton produces a common soil bacterium, Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt). It is a natural pest repelling bacteria that is toxic to many worms and pests that can harm the crop but is not hazardous to humans. Bt is widely sprayed on crops by organic farmers as a pesticide. As a result of the adoption of Bt cotton, India is now the largest cotton producer in the world.

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Disadvantages of Genetically Modified or GM Crops

1. The production imposes high risks to the disruption of ecosystem and biodiversity because the “better” traits produced from engineering genes can result in the favouring of one organism. Hence, it can eventually disrupt the natural process of gene flow.

2. It increases the cost of cultivation and more inclined towards marketization of farming that work on immoral profits.

3. The transgenic crops endanger not only farmers but also the trade, and the environment as well.

4. It is biologically altered. Hence, biotech foods may pose a human health risk.

5. The excessive production of genetically modified foods will be rendered ineffective over time because the pests that these toxins used to deter might eventually develop resistance towards them.

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GMOs in Agricultural Biotechnology

Genetically Conferred Trait

Example Organism

Genetic Change


Herbicide tolerance


Glyphosate herbicide (Roundup) tolerance conferred by expression of a glyphosate-tolerant form of the plant enzyme 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS) isolated from the soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, strain CP4

Insect resistance


Resistance to insect pests, specifically the European corn borer, through expression of the insecticidal protein Cry1Ab from Bacillus thuringiensis

Altered fatty acid composition


High laurate levels achieved by inserting the gene for ACP thioesterase from the California bay tree Umbellularia californica

Virus resistance


Resistance to plum pox virus conferred by insertion of a coat protein (CP) gene from the virus


Vitamin enrichment


Three genes for the manufacture of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, in the endosperm of the rice prevent its removal (from husks) during milling



Hepatitis B virus surface antigen (HBsAg) produced in transgenic tobacco induces immune response when injected into mice

Oral vaccines


Fusion protein (F) from Newcastle disease virus (NDV) expressed in corn seeds induces an immune response when fed to chickens

Faster maturation

Coho salmon

A type 1 growth hormone gene injected into fertilized fish eggs results in 6.2% retention of the vector at one year of age, as well as significantly increased growth rates

Source: www.nature.com

There is ongoing controversies and debate in our surroundings on the Use of GMOs whether they are harmful or helpful. But the use of GMOs can only benefit to humans when it is used for increasing the availability and quality of food and medical care, and contributing to a cleaner environment otherwise no use of GMOs.

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