According to an article in Scientific America, genetically Modified (GM) crops are becoming an important part of worldwide farming with approximately 109 million acres under cultivation (Brown, 2001). However, most of the farmland is in the US (68%) and Argentina (23%), and the most common GM crops are soybean (36%), corn (7%), cotton (16%), and canola (11%). GM varieties are a major proportion of the total production of soybeans (58%) and corn (23%)(James, 2000).
The development and use of GM plants has divided people into 2 groups. One group believes GM plants offer benefits for both increased production of food and fiber, and decreased use of pesticides and herbicides. The opposing group believes GM plants will cause ecological disaster by inadvertently killing beneficial organisms and producing "superweeds" (Brown, 2001).
Much of the debate rests on the perception of safety and both groups feel strongly in their opinions; however, to date there have been few scientific studies to test the ecological impacts or benefits, if any, of these plants. This article discusses the important issues of this debate and presents a review of the results from recent studies on the use of GM plants in the farm setting (Brown, 2001).
The author's methodology in presenting the evidence for this review is to pose four basic questions:
Do GM crops allow the use of smaller amounts or less harmful herbicides and pesticides?,
Do GM crops cause the inadvertent death of beneficial organisms?,
Do GM crops pose a threat of introducing new genes into closely related weed species?, and
Do GM crops pose a threat of sudden crop failure due to pests and weeds evolving immunity? (Brown, 2001)
The author then attempts to answer each question using "peer-reviewed" articles or results from reputable researchers in the various scientific fields.
Herbicide and insecticide residue on food crops is a very important issue for cons...