Essay: Side Effects of Genetically Modified Organisms
Though there are numerous advantages of GMOs, is imperative to note that there are also side effects. GMOs are known to cause harm to unintended organisms such as butterflies and bees. For example, “monarch butterfly caterpillars do not consume corn but they feed on milkweed”. (Free news service on Ag-Biotech, GMOs, & Food Security in Africa. 2009 available online) When pollen from GM corn is blown to milkweed on neighboring farms the caterpillars consume it and end up dying. (Whitman 2000 available online)
The fact that the caterpillars act as biological weed controllers, killing them is tantamount to destroying the ecosystem. Some pests might develop resistance to pesticides by feeding on GMOs and this may cause a problem in controlling certain insects such as mosquitoes. GMOs can also crossbreed with weeds making it difficult to eliminate the resultant weeds. The weeds might end up acquiring the genes of the GMOs, which are engineered to tolerate herbicides “forming what is commonly referred to as superweeds”. (Whitman 2000 available online) As a result, these superweeds would develop tolerance to the herbicides. It is possible for genes from GMOs to cross to plants, which are not GMOs if they are planted close to one another. Because of the foreign genes present in GMOs, there are high chances of increased allergy on its users who were not used to such genes.