Genetically Modified Plants in Agriculture

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Genetically Modified Plants in Agriculture

The use of agriculture to grow edible plants is an essential step in the worldwide goal of nations to maintain self-sufficiency. Through agriculture, crops are raised by the cultivation of soils, in conjunction with the biological processes that allow for plant growth. In recent years, genetic engineering has enabled plant scientists to insert genes from one type of plant species, which will express a desired trait, into a different plant species that had not been able to obtain the genes through cross fertilization or other natural pathways.

The possibilities arising from the use of genetically modified (GM) plants seem as an excellent answer to the overwhelming problems of environmental degradation and food instability worldwide, but society is now faced with the possible implications that could occur with an influx of "new" plants. These implications lead to a massive debate ranging from health issues to who owns seeds that are produced by GM plants. Included in this debate as well is the question of how much power should be given to large multinational companies who have developed the new technology.

Farming and agricultural methods have become far more complex, as they have evolved throughout time. Ancient methods allowed for the taming of plants and animals to provide for a transition from nomadic lifestyles of constantly moving in search of food and water, to the agricultural lifestyle of self-sufficiency at a permanent residence. Evolution in the complexity of agricultural methods and techniques has occurred in part due to a search for maximum efficiency by an advancing society. Efficiency has always been a dominant motivational factor for new techniques to be allocated in this field, and in this last century, especially in the last decade, changes unfathomable to farmers past and present have taken place along the lines of efficiency. Along with increased use of fertilizers, high-yielding hybrid seed varieties that have been produced by plant breeding techniques have dramatically increased the average production per land area.

In recent years, the scientific community has developed a process enabling genetic engineers to insert genes expressing a desired trait into crops that had not been able to obtain these genes from other species through cross fertilization methods. These genes can then be passed down to the seeds of the newly recombined plant and will be expressed in the generations following. The Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources better describes how genetic modification technology affects agriculture in the present era:
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