Pros and Cons of Biotechnology in Agriculture
What is biotechnology engineering? Biotechnology has aided agriculture in recent years by utilizing and
manipulating biological processes in order to attain benefits relative to the agriculture industry. This
includes altering the genetic code of agricultural products in order to create specific antibiotics,
hormones or beneficial traits that are not found naturally in a crop. Biotechnology application to
agriculture has helped create specific advantages for agricultural production, along with a few concerns
and drawbacks. A successful agribusiness owner or laborer should familiarize themselves to the
advantages and disadvantages of biotechnology in their industry before making decisions which are sure
to impact their crop production and business.
The benefits of biotechnology include an increase in crop production and yields. This allows farmers to
grow more crops faster, and also can produce larger agricultural products than would produce
Biotechnological engineering allows for the production of agriculture crops which are able to be
modified to become more resistant to both disease and insect pests. This in turn allows for farmers to
use less chemicals on their crops for these purposes. The use of less chemical products in agricultural
production will in turn save money that would have otherwise been spent on such efforts. The use of
less chemical pesticides is also more environmentally friendly as such products are then less likely to
wind up affecting the air, soil and water in that area. Freshwater supply is an especially precious natural
resources that needs protection from such chemical pollution.
Another major advantage of biotechnology is that agricultural products are actually able to be modified
to stay fresher for longer, which is a valid advantage in today’s modern world where food waste is seen
to be a major concern. Food waste is considered especially terrible due to worldwide instances of
hunger and widespread lack of food security.
Biotechnological engineering can also for the production of agricultural food products which are
modified as to become more nutritious. The production of more nutritious agriculture has a positive
impact on the health of those consumers who eat these foods as a part of their regular diets.
Biotechnology and bio process engineering can also have the added benefit of allowing for the creative
innovation of new crop variations which are better suited for harsher climate conditions. Regions where
the natural climate makes it difficult to successfully produce agricultural crops often struggle to grow
food. Biotechnology allows for a solution in these regions. It can be very beneficial for local regions to be
able to produce their own foods, rather than relying on the imported agricultural products of other
Blue biotechnology refers to the application of biotechnology and biological engineering to marine
agriculture. Marine agricultural products consumed include fish, shellfish, sponges and petroleum. While
it is more common to associate biotechnological and genetically modified agriculture to those crops
which are produced on land, blue biotechnology is a relative segment of agricultural production which
also experiences added advantages and disadvantages of biologically engineered marine agriculture.
Various concerns and disadvantages in regards to the use biotechnology do also exist. Genetically
modified organisms, known as “GMOs”, have been used at times along with herbicides and pesticides,
which are known to be disruptors of endocrine. Propazine, cyanazine, chlordane, methyl bromide,
malathion, and 2,4-D are pesticides known for inducing the growth of mammary glands. These
environmental toxins have been connected to breast cancer, as has been publicized by The Breast
Cancer Fund. GMOs in the production of corn kernels and oil used to produced microwave popcorn
products have also been linked to lung cancer.
It can be extremely costly to label agricultural products as being genetically modified or free from
genetic modification. The labeling of product variations has in turn been controversial, due to a negative
association many consumers hold in regards to GMOs as well as the costs associated with such labeling.
Many consumers are wary of purchasing a product containing GMOs, for a variety of concerns. Larger
companies exercise greater political power and can pay to have regulations loosened for their economic
benefit but at the risk of consumers and the environment.
The trade of genetically modified agricultural products can actually cause geopolitical conflicts for a
variety of reasons. The occurrence of genetically modified weeds can pester agricultural production in a
plethora of ways, creating “super-weeds” that are resistant to herbicides and pesticides. Genetically
modified organisms can affect the natural environment in many ways that are typically unforeseen. An
example of this is how genetically modified corn wound up being poisonous to the monarch butterfly.
Bio engineered crops are also at risk to cross-pollinate, creating new variations of agricultural crops. This
can have a major impact on the production of agricultural products in the general area. Agricultural
crops and products which are supposed to be organic and are labeled as such could instead actually be
genetically modified, and thus mislabeled. Allergies related to agricultural crops and natural plant life in
a region can actually worsen and effect those who suffer even more. This is due to the new variations of
plants being present that are drastically different from what we would naturally find, and subsequently
come with unique issues which lack ready solutions.
While there is so much negative connotation associated with genetically modified agricultural
production, biotechnology is still incredibly relevant to agriculture and agribusiness. When yielded
appropriately, biotechnology can be a great asset in the production of crops in the added value such
technology provides to crop production.