Have you ever thought what GE, GM, and GMO mean? Yes, we all used to the fact that GMO is dangerous and is not preferable for a daily diet. But what about GE? Do you particularly know what does this abbreviation mean? Is it as harmful as a GMO product? What food may contain it? How does it influence the environment we live in? And why does it arouse so many discussions and disputes?
First of all, let make it clear that GMO and GE are two different things. GE means genetically engineered products. It is a process of changing a genetic material in a live organism (plant or fish). The best examples of GE crops are corn, canola, sugar beet, and cotton. A dramatic increase of GE food and absence of labeling disturb not only simple customers and fishing industry but also respected professors and qualified activists.
The understanding of the impacts of GE crops is very important, but not a simple task.
GE Crops and Their Ecological Effects
Most GE crops are engineered for resistance to herbicides and for the production of bt toxins. The main concerns related to GE crops are about potential negative impacts on the environment.
The first and the most important impact of GE crops is that the use of tillage has reduced. It is used by farmers to prepare the soil before a planting process. Now, soybeans can be planted directly over an old field of wheat. One of the positive environmental impacts of no-till practice is that the soil erosion reduces.
Despite the fact that GE has some positive effects on the environment, in the case of GE herbicide tolerant soybeans, it clearly shows a negative effect. The main reason is herbicides used with glyphosate. Genetic manipulations of crops may lead to uncontrollable consequences in future. The biggest part of GE crops is widely cultivated outdoors, where they can’t be completely controlled. GE crops can easily pass their characteristics to neighboring (non-GE) crops. This concerns not only plants and crops but also fish. For example, a genetically engineered salmon.
And what about other beneficial field growth and some living creatures, which are eliminated with weeds and pests too? Pests and weeds obtain resistance to pesticides. So, step-by-step even stronger pesticides will be used. And that is definitely not okay. The natural landscapes will be destroyed faster from day to day to make room for genetically engineered monocultures.
While the question about the environmental impacts of GE crops has an answer, the question about GE effects on humans and animals is still open. No one has a clear answer. That’s why we can’t claim that the situation of GE crops is under control. The environment and consumers should be always placed first.