Iowa Public Television


Implications of Genetically Modified Organisms Are Explored

posted on December 15, 2000

Be it from the perspective of the environment, or the safety of food, or the structure of the agricultural economy, or the challenge to feed the world, there is no single technology that provokes debate in so many regions of public discourse as biotechnology. Genetically engineered organisms offer many benefits say proponents, and pose just as many liabilities argue its critics.

Debate is not likely to end soon on the technology's impact on abstract fields like economics. But it doesn't seem to be any more conclusive in fields ground in empirical data. Indeed the work of researchers funded by a grant from the American Association for the Advancement of Science would seem to suggest scientists are also confused about the technology's impact on the environment.

Implications of Genetically Modified Organisms Are Explored The debate over the use of genetically modified crops began after the release of the Flavor-Savor tomato in the early 90s. In an attempt to get a handle on the implications of the use of genetically modified organisms on the environment, two research scientists evaluated several studies that were never published in mainstream peer-reviewed science journals. Their conclusion? The studies are inconclusive. Not enough is known to make a determination either way.

Even so, the studies note certain facts.

-The use of biotech products reduces the amount of

chemicals sprayed on the ground.

-Some so called non-target insects can be harmed or

killed by certain biotech products.

-Resistance can be passed from target plants to non-

target plants.

-Genetically engineered strains of plants can and will

provide greater health benefits than their non-

transgenic counter parts

Scientists from both sides of this contentious issue feel the report is fair and balanced. Those who were unconvinced of the efficacy of the products in the first place remain unconvinced the products are safe. At the same time, proponents of GMOs stand solidly behind the opinion that careful study shows the products will not impact the environment in a harmful manner.

More study is expected.

Tags: agriculture crops genetic engineering news