GM crops provide many benefits for not only the farmers who grow them but also for consumers. Some of those benefits include:
- Fewer inputs (like water or pesticides) needed to grow food, on less land than ever before. Drought resistant GM crops and Bt crops (which allow farmers to use fewer, and in some instances, no pesticides) are two examples of how biotechnology can be used by farmers to farm more sustainably, in ways that positively impact their communities.
- Crops that are genetically engineered to fight diseases are saving not only the foods we love, but the industries that grow them. Genetic engineering was used to save the Hawaiian Rainbow papaya from the deadly ringspot virus which threatened to wipe out the crop, and the industry.
- Herbicide tolerant crops allow farmers to use less or no-till farming methods. These methods of farming reduce nutrient runoff and soil erosion, which helps our rivers, and requires less irrigation because it retains additional soil moisture, all while maintaining the crops’ yield, safety and nutritional value.
- GMOs are taking on food waste. New potatoes that are genetically engineered to resist bruising during shipping and handling are coming onto the market, and new apples that resist browning when sliced will reduce food waste in the market and kitchen! According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010, each American on average threw away 17 apples – totaling 1.7 billion pounds of food waste.
Scientists around the world are working on a number of GM seed varieties that could deliver several benefits in the future. For example, GE technology has the potential to create a hypoallergenic peanut.
These benefits and traits illustrate that biotechnology, conducted in a scientifically sound way, has the potential to provide more healthy and plentiful food for a growing world population.