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Biotechnology and Agriculture

Biotechnology and Agriculture

Author: Nathan Lampson

This lesson will describe the risks and benefits of biotechnology in agriculture.

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Through the use of biotechnology, modern agriculture is able to transfer genes from one organism and implant those genes into another organism.  Borrowing genes from another organism is known as transgenics.  The use of transgenic organisms in agriculture has been met with mixed reactions.  There is a long list of both risks and benefits associated with using transgenic organisms for food production.


Transgenic crops may one day pass their pesticide/herbicide resistant genes to wild relatives resulting in a super-weed that competes with crops and is difficult to manage.

When genes that produce a toxin are transferred to food crops, it is possible that the toxin will harm more than just the pest species trying to feed on the food crop.  For example, butterflies or bees might be harmed by toxins that are meant to target other insect species.

It is possible that humans may have an allergic response to food crops that have been genetically modified due to unforeseen allergic reactions.


Biotech can produce better tasting fruits and vegetables.

Farmers using biotechnology don't need to use as many herbicides and pesticides to protect their crops due to built-in genetic resistance.

Plants can be engineered to grow in more extreme conditions and survive stressful environmental conditions more successfully.

Biotechnology and Agriculture