Since the 1980's, scientists have developed techniques to insert genes into plant crops to give the plants new traits. For example, genes for insect resistance, originally from bacteria, can be placed into corn or soybean or potato plants; the plant is not harmed by insects, and no insecticides are needed. Other genes can be inserted that are for resistance to plant viruses or fungi, or that make a plant resistant to herbicides that are ordinarily used to kill weeds in that crop field. Plants can be made to be resistant to drought or to contain higher levels of nutrients as well.
The use of genetically engineered crops such as this may also reduce the use of environmentally harmful insecticides and herbicides. But there are serious questions about the impacts of this type of genetic engineering, too. Are these foods safe for us to eat, for farm animals to eat, and safe for the environment?
What are the pro's and con's of using genetically engineered crops? Why have they been adopted by millions of farmers worldwide? How are genetically engineered plants actually made? What specific crops are grown and why? How do the crop yields per acre of genetically engineered crops compare with the yields of traditional crops? What are environmental risks of growing genetically engineered crops and how are those risks met? What regulations are there of genetically modified crops? Do consumers want labels on food crops that state that they are genetically modified?