What Are Some of the Potential Benefits and Potential Risks of Biotechnology?

The benefits of using biotechnology to genetically modify organisms include increased yield at reduced cost, lower prices, increased land use, reduced use of pesticides, and increased profits for companies that develop the plants. The objections to this technology include a fear of playing God, fears about whether genetically modified crops are sustainable and worries about the distribution of benefits and burdens.

Genetically modified organisms allow farmers to have a higher yield of their crops at production costs that are lower than they would normally be. This means that the price for the consumer is lower as well, so economically this model makes sense. In addition, genetic modification opens up the possibility of genetically engineering plants so that they can grow in areas that are prone to drought or that have high saline levels in the soil. This means that farmers would be able to grow crops in areas where it was previously impossible, increasing overall crop yields. Likewise, the possibility of genetically engineering crops that are pest resistant would decrease the use of fertilizers and pesticides and reduce harmful runoff.

There are, however, many cons to this technology as well. Many religions believe that man has a natural relationship with nature and that the ability to change the genetic makeup of a living organism profoundly alters this relationship. In addition, there are questions about whether this practice is sustainable. Crop yields can be increased and crops grown in areas where we previously could not, but it is unclear whether this practice is actually what is best for the earth, or whether it will only deplete the earth's resources. In addition there are worries about the distribution of the effects of this biotechnology.