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Potential Risks of Agriculture Biotechnology

BY: Nidhi Uppangala | Category: Issues | Submitted: 2010-06-29 20:57:29

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Agriculture biotechnology is used to improve plants using the tools such as genetic engineering, plant tissue culture. Biotechnology used in agriculture to improve crop yield, nutrient value, to produce pesticide resistant plant, draught resistant plants. By doing these entire thing the crop loss due to pests or by drought condition are reduced. Agriculture biotechnology is also used to produce disease resistant crop plants.

Agriculture biotechnology helped reducing the usage of pesticide, herbicide and other toxic chemicals by farmers to protect the crop. This reduced the water pollution and soil pollution by all these toxic chemicals. This also protects animals, birds and humans from consuming toxic plant based food stuffs. Agriculture biotechnology can be used to solve problems related to desertification and soil salinization. But agriculture biotechnology has got some of the potential risks on human health, environment.

Potential Risk of Agriculture Biotechnology on Human Health:

1. Genetically modified food may produce new proteins and it may act as new allergen and can induce allergic reactions in humans. Scientists cannot regulate the site of insertion of genes in the plant genome and this will induce new allergen in food chain.
2. Agriculture biotechnology technique like genetic engineering uses antibiotic resistant gene as markers, and consumption of food products which has got these antibiotic resistant genes may reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics. This also has got the danger of transferring this antibiotic resistant gene to human pathogens and makes them antibiotic resistant.
3. Addition of genetic material by genetic engineering may interact with the pathways involved in the production of toxic substances produced by plant, which are used to preserve motionless organisms from the predators.
4. Agriculture biotechnology may increase the contamination of soil and plants by heavy metals, by adding one or more new genes to the plants.
5. This technology may induce health risk to humans as a result of proteins produced by newly added genes to the plants. It may increase the environment of toxic fungi.
6. Long term affect of these genetically engineered food products is still not known, so in future we may come across new unknown type of health risks in humans or animals.

Potential Risk of Agriculture Biotechnology to the Environment:

Strict laws are made and are followed by scientists regarding the applications of agriculture biotechnology. When importing genetically modified seed or plants to one country all the procedures used and the genes which are added and its function are fully studied to avoid any potential environmental hazards. Then too agriculture biotechnology has got some potential risks to the environment such as,

1. Agriculture biotechnology may increase herbicide resistant weeds.
2. Genetically modified plants produced using genetic engineering may transfer new genes into wild herbs, pests
3. Plants produced using agriculture biotechnology techniques may poison wildlife by producing toxic proteins.
4. This technology may create new types of microorganisms like viruses, bacteria
5. As this agriculture technology is in its infancy stage, it may induce some unknown risks to the environment in the future.


As agriculture biotechnology has got both advantages and disadvantages, as a society we should understand when, where and how we can use this technology to improve the human health and to keep environment free from all types of pollution.

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