The development of modern technologies has caused great changes in all aspects of human life. The great environmental changes have influenced the agricultural field as well. New kinds of plants continue to emerge, leading to the irrevocable changes in the entire ecosystems. Therefore, there is a pressing need to consider whether such changes and innovations are safe for humans. Very often, new sorts of agricultural plants may contain harmful substances that badly influence human health as well as the surroundings areas. Recently, the problem of testing of Bt corn has emerged due to its negative influence on the populations of the monarch caterpillars and functioning of the entire eco-system. This paper is going to analyze the global issue of the usage of Bt corn, discuss its nature and characteristics, define the impacts on the environment and potential solutions for the existing problem.
One of the most significant inventions in the agriculture is the creation of the Bt corn. Bt corn is a genetically modified plant, containing some chemical substances that may happen to be poisonous for certain groups of insects. The scientists have managed to insert a gene from a microorganism called “Bacillus thuringiensis” into the plant (Linacre and Thompson 1). This gene forms a basis for the corn’s genome. The researches show that the gene contains poison that represents danger to some kinds of insects by affecting their digestive tracts (Kriz and Larkins 115). Some years ago, there was a misconception saying that insects died from starvation. In fact, poisonous insects perish because of the penetration of bacteria stored in the leaves of the genetically modified plants. Such resistance to the insects has made Bt corn very popular as it gives huge crop yield every year.
However, nowadays, the problem of safety of such corn for human health and environment has emerged. New researches show that Bt corn can lead to much more serious consequences than just a destruction of “target” insects (Kriz, and Larkins 114). For example, some cases of allergic reactions caused by Bt corn have been recorded. Moreover, usage of Bt cornt leads to the inevitable changes in the entire structure of an ecosystem. At the very beginning, the invention of Bt corn meant the affection only of the target insects, although it happened to influence other species as well. For example, the laboratory researches show that Bt corn has a strong impact on the monarch caterpillars and butterflies (Kriz and Larkins 114). These insects are widely spread on the fields and meadows, especially in the USA. They consume various plants, among which the leaves of the corn should be mentioned. However, the invention of Bt corn represents a threat for their existence (Gustafsson et al. 700).
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The dangerous impact of Bt corn on monarch caterpillars means something more than just a risk for these species. The spread of these plants can lead to the destruction of the individual agricultural ecosystem. Obviously, the ecosystem includes many components such as different species, locality, weather conditions, and other abiotic agents. All components are closely connected and interdependent. The destruction of one, even the smallest element, can lead to the disruption of the entire ecosystem. Monarch butterflies serve as food for some birds. The disappearance of the butterflies caused by the new sort of plants will apparently mean the evanescence of the birds due to the pressing need to find food. In addition, monarch butterflies pollinate certain plants. With disappearance of the butterflies, it will be difficult for the plants to grow and increase in number. As a result, it is possible to conclude that the usage of the Bt corn can completely change the agricultural ecosystem (Stenoien, Nail, and Oberhauser 671).
Additionally, the scientists warn that Bt corn will bring some changes to the global eco-systems in the future (Gustafsson et al. 704). As the monarch butterflies tend to migrate across the Atlantic Ocean, it means that other places and areas will get new inhabitants. In its turn, such a situation will demand new living conditions and changes in the conventional functioning of certain ecosystems. On the contrary, the decrease of quantity of the monarch caterpillars in the US fields may lead to the decreased amount of plants and oxygen produced. As a result, all species will have to adapt to new circumstances and develop new abilities to survive (Gustafsson et al. 614).
In fact, many counties have used the Bt corn and provided permissions for their planting. During a long period, the USA have planted this maize as well. Despite the requests of the US Environmental Protection Agency to limit the usage of Bt corn, the crops were not reduced due to the high popularity and demand in the maize. Nowadays, its usage is limited and regulated by the national law and environmental legislation (Gacovski, Cilev, and Petrovska 309).
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The new threatening ecological issues, connected with the usage of genetically modified crops, have caused the governments to rethink their attitudes to this permission. At the beginning of 2015, some countries refused to sign the patent for the usage of Bt corn. Moreover, numerous restrictive legislation actions, protests, and disputes have taken place to draw the public attention to the question of safety of the genetically modified crops.
Personally, I suppose that this problem finds the right reflection in the public and governmental reactions. The problem can be solved with the help of restriction of usage of genetically modified crops for the sake of environmental protection and proper functioning of the ecosystems.
To sum up, the usage of the genetically modified corn can make a negative influence on the life of the individual agricultural surroundings. It can destroy its essential components, which, in their turn, can affect the global eco-system. Therefore, every new human invention should conform to the environmental conditions without any changes in its components.