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Environmental Implications Potentials of Biotechnology

1. Introduction
2. The advantages of implementation of biotechnologies
3. The critic of implementation of biotechnology
4. Conclusion
5. Bibliography

The contemporary society is characterized by significant achievements in different spheres of life, including technological progress and economic development. Unfortunately the contemporary world has a number of problems which are basically the result of human activities and are related to the environment pollution, which in its turn creates quite dangerous perspectives of the further development of the human society in the global scale. In such a situation many specialists suggest to be as close to nature as possible in order to sustain harmony that existed in nature before human intervention.
One of such alternatives is the development of biotechnologies, which may be applied in different spheres of life but they seem to be particularly helpful in agriculture, especially if one takes into consideration that it is easier to apply biotechnologies in agriculture than in some industry.
The current situation
Nowadays it is obvious that implementation of biotechnologies is probably the most effective means of the environmental protection because they are not harmful for nature and human health compared to conventional technologies. The spheres of implementation of biotechnologies is very wide. For instance, biotechnologies can be used in some industrial production. As a rule such products are recyclable and environmentally friendly that particularly contrasting to the products which cannot be recycled and which consequently pollute the environment, such as different sorts of wastes of heavy industry, etc.
However, biotechnologies seem to be particularly effective if applied in agriculture where the use of chemical products, antibiotics and other unnatural elements are typical for conventional farming. In such a situation organic farming, based on progressive biotechnologies seems to have great perspectives for further development. In its research the works of Thomas R. DeGregori are particularly noteworthy since he states that “biotechnologists are working to create even more efficient plants” (2004:371) than those which have been created during the Green Revolution, which actually lead to the implementation of dangerous technologies in agriculture.
Furthermore, products of organic farming, which amply use biotechnologies is more preferable for consumers than the products of conventional farming. Their choice may be explained by those advantages that organic farming has over conventional farming. Especially, when the market is overwhelmed by suspicious products and very often people even don’t know what they really eat. So, advantages of organic farming and consequently of the use of biotechnologies, are as follows:
First of all it is traditionally supposed to produce natural food without artificial chemical additives that make such food much more attractive for a person who cares about his/her health because it is well known that pesticides often used in chemical farming may be very dangerous not only for human health but also for environment where people live. Organic farming traditionally uses manure, different composts and other natural products.
Secondly it fertilizes soil and in such a way makes it more convenient for farming. It is especially important because on using chemicals or other conventional means of farming the condition of soil may be seriously deteriorated. Nowadays it is already a problem how to restore the productivity of lands that were exhausted by pesticides and risk to be completely destroyed if such methods of farming won’t be stopped.
Also organic farming provides for diversity of plants while large farms where pesticides and other chemicals are used mainly have only one plant because it is more profitable for them as they don’t need to waste money on using different artificial materials depending on a sort of plant. The nature of organic farming demands such diversity because it is needed for higher productivity of land.
One more positive aspect of organic farming is the fact that cattle and poultry on such farms are fed by natural food and the use of any chemicals such as antibiotics is highly restricted and their use is exceptional. Unlike conventional farming, organic farming treat them naturally. It means that they have natural conditions of life and they grow in normal conditions. It guarantees that the products of organic farms will be safe and healthy.
As for economical aspect, organic farming do not receive any financial help from the government unlike conventional farming which is subsidized and supported by means of various special terms of work. Though organic farming is still quite expansive even if farmers do not buy synthetic pesticides and other chemicals for their farms.
Finally, though it seems a bit paradoxically but organic farming do not use some achievements of modern science. Among them we can name genetically modified organisms. Though they are permitted to be grown on some farms the effect they produce on nature and human life are vague and not clear. This lack of knowledge about their effect makes products, which are genetically modified, unpredictable and potentially dangerous.
All these facts contribute to the fast development of organic farming and growth of its popularity as well as the growth of interests from the part of the ‘big’ agribusiness. It makes organic farming very prospective branch of American agriculture that sooner or later could compete with conventional farming.
The critic of implementation of biotechnologies
But despite growing popularity of organic farming and implementation of biotechnologies they are often criticized and, certainly, some of the arguments of critics has to be thoroughly analyzed. As it has already been mentioned organic farming has enough advantages in comparison with chemical farming but some of this advantages are criticized and here I am going to concentrate my attention on this critic.
Firstly, it is necessary to underline that the growth of organic farming and the interest of agribusiness in it can have a negative effect on organic farming because it becomes more commercialized and the profit of the owner becomes the main aim of farming. As a result, nowadays some organic farms are allowed to use some inputs which, potentially, may have a negative impact on environment and human health (eg. sewage). That proves that further chase for profit may threaten to the positive image of organic farming and it also leads to the same problems that conventional farming has already got.
Among these problems I have already named the danger of pesticides used in chemical farming. But critics of organic farming estimate that some synthetic pesticides are made on the basis of natural pesticides. This improvement makes them less dangerous but not absolutely safe.
One more problem of organic farming is the protection of farms from pests. It is a well-known fact that conventional farms solve this problem using different chemicals that is not acceptable in organic farming. But in the case of wide spread of organic farming and its domination over conventional one the problem risks to become a real disaster if methods of natural anti-pests protection won’t be as effective as their artificial counterparts. It is very difficult to foresee the prospects of organic farming in such a situation, especially, if we take into our consideration the fact that conventional farming and use of artificial means of plants protection forced pests to evaluate and to enforce their vitality and resistance.
Another argument of critics against organic farming is the danger of food contamination by products of this way of farming. Some specialists consider that organic food can be quite dangerous and provoke some diseases which are caused by food. They also say that some materials used in organic farming are dangerous too (manure contains a human pathogen, some biological toxins, etc.). But as for me I think that there are some other factors that can cause food contamination: the conditions of storage, the transportation of products, etc.
Finally, the commercialization of organic farming led to the weakening of regulations that permitted to use such inputs or products that were unimaginable a short time before. For example, in April 2004 USDA adopted a directive that permitted to use some synthetic pesticides on organic farms. In general such decisions and trends contradict to traditional principles of organic farming which emphasize the presence of only natural ingredients in organic products.
Thus, organic farming has some doubtful aspects that were listed in this part of my work but before criticize we have to study and compare both organic and conventional farming and nowadays the information concerning two ways of agriculture is obviously not enough, particularly, in relation to organic farming that is not so wide spread as its critics.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the implementation of biotechnologies is very effective and will definitely improve the ecological situation and prevent many health problems people currently faces. The example of implementation of biotechnologies in agriculture proves that it can be applied to practice but it should be done very carefully in order not to provoke economic problems and to develop the habit of consumption of environmentally friendly products created with the help of biotechnologies.
1. DeGregori, Thomas R. Origins of the Organic Debate: Vitalist Junkscience vs. Scientific Inquiry. Ames: Iowa State Press, A Blackwell Scientific Publisher, 2004.
2. Griscom, Amanda. Organic: friend or faux. Gristmill Magazine, April, 2004.
3. Oelhaf, R. Organic Agriculture: economic and ecological comparisons with conventional methods. Allanheld, Osman, Montclair, NJ, 1978.

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