What Were the Positive/Negative Outcomes of the Columbian Exchange?

The Columbian Exchange occurred when travelers from the Old World met residents of the New World. Advances in farming represent a positive outcome, and the spread of disease represents a negative outcome from this meeting.

Positive Impacts There were many positive impacts from the Columbian Exchange, such as the introduction of new crops and farming techniques to the introduction of various domesticated animals to the New World. Some of these crops and animals include potatoes, cows, oxen and horses, among other livestock. In return, the New World brought many new crops of their own to Europe and other Old World locations. Some of these crops include sugar cane, bananas and corn, or maize as it was called by the natives.

Other New World items that found their way to the New World include a variety of beans, including lima, butter and kidney; modern day favorites such as pineapple, avocado and cocoa beans, as well as gourds such as squash, pumpkin and others. This free exchange of goods led to the idea of a global trade for foodstuffs, with food shipments coming to the Americas from ports around the world.

Old World farming techniques brought to the New World include the plow, which allowed farmers to more easily cultivate the land. This ability to cultivate the land led to further development of civilization, as Native Americans could focus more on other pursuits besides survival, as they had to do with their previous hunter/gatherer society.

Negative Impacts In addition to the many positive plants and animals the Columbian Exchange brought to the various cultures involved, the exchange also brought with it many negative outcomes. New diseases never before encountered in the New World represent one of the most deadly of these negative outcomes. Large swaths of the New World population were wiped out by diseases that they had few defenses against. This did more damage than any army could do.

In addition, slavery helped set the stage for further conflict between the states of the fledgling country of America. Some could even argue that the effects of slavery can still be felt even in modern times. Wars engineered by the invading Old World forces represent another negative impact on the New World. The greed of New World explorers seemed to know no bounds, with wars arising out of their desire for gold and a need to exploit the natural resources of the various regions they inhabited.

Firearms The introduction of firearms to the New World can be seen as both a blessing and a curse. Firearms made it easier to hunt for game meat, but the guns’ destructive forces allowed people to use them with devastating results against their friends, neighbors and enemies.

Architecture A final area where the arrival of Old World settlers had an impact on the New World includes the area of architecture. Old World settlers brought with them many tried and true building techniques, which allowed for the building of stronger and more permanent structures built to withstand the elements and the forces of nature. The wheel also helped in the establishment of society, allowing New World natives to transport building materials to farther points from their origin.