There are also several disadvantages of biotechnology in as much as it has been seen to offer many ground-breaking technologies to tackle crippling and uncommon diseases, lessen our environmental impact, feed the needy, use less and healthier power, and have safer, cleaner, and more effective industrial production processes.
Yet there are some negative impacts that have been experienced over time since the inception of biotechnology.
Biotechnology is simply the combination of biological and technological knowledge to produce goods and technologies that enhance our quality of life and the world’s health.
Biotechnology is not a new discipline, it was introduced 6000 years ago for the fermentation of wine, cheese, and bread.
Biotechnology uses cellular and biomolecular processes to make technological advances to reduce our environmental footprints, use less energy, fight rare diseases, and increase our efficiency in the industrial manufacturing process. In biotechnology, the sectors that are utilized are unlimited.
Modern biotechnology is divided into several branches, usually represented by color. Red for medical biotechnology, Green for environmental biotechnology and agricultural biotechnology, White for industrial biotechnology, Blue for marine biotechnology, and Yellow for food biotechnology.
In this article, we will take a ride to discuss the disadvantages of biotechnology. Let’s get started.
10 Disadvantages of Biotechnology
The benefits of biotechnology can range from reducing environmental footprint, improvement of to medical and agricultural processes.
However, when biotechnology is treated inappropriately, it can lead to several problems. On the other hand, introduces the disadvantages associated with biotechnology.
Here are 10 disadvantages of biotechnology
- It Can Be Harnessed as a Weapon
- Effect on croplands and Soil fertility.
- Development of Blight in Crops
- It has Many Unknowns
- It turns Human Life into a Commodity
- It can be used for destruction.
- It is Expensive
- Lack of Genetic Diversity
- Human Genetic Biodiversity Reduction
- Loss of Biodiversity
1. It Can Be Harnessed as a Weapon
Biotechnology has been known to perform the alteration of cells and cell components for our benefit. Biotechnology can lead to biological weapons that terrorists could use for destruction.
Therefore, appropriate authorities should check the biotechnology process to avoid cases where the aid of biotechnology is used to terrorize or destroy humanity.
2. Effect on croplands and Soil fertility.
Agricultural crops get their natural nutrients from the soil. But then, Biotechnology has introduced more nutrients to the crops alongside more vitamins and minerals to enter our food chain, which could be coming at a cost such that the soil may lose its fertility over time as a result of much nutrients from the crops, even with crop rotation occurring.
That may reduce the amount of growing time each land segment is able to provide while extending its recovery period at the same time. If this happens, a recovery period will occur, reducing the yield of food produced at that time, and for some.
In some situations, the croplands could be permanently ruined or destroyed. Also, the soil needs ample time to regain its fertility; otherwise, it can have detrimental effects on the production of food.
The excessive drain of nutrients from the soil leads to farmers opting for fertilizers which may be very detrimental in the long run.
3. Development of Blight in Crops
Blight is a type of condition where there is chlorosis (loss of chlorophyll-green color) of leaves. The pigment helps in the photosynthetic process of plants. The implementation of biotechnology has led to the unfortunate development of blight in crops.
Which has been seen to cause notable adverse effects on plants such as the withering, or death of tubers and leaves since the plant would not be able to carry out adequate photosynthesis.
4. It has Many Unknowns
One of the biggest disadvantages of biotechnology is that it has many unknowns. Although biotechnology has advanced in recent years, there are still a lot of long-term effects that are yet to be discovered.
For instance, what would be the long-term effects of altering genes in living cells for a particular advantage? We don’t know yet if future generations might have to suffer.
What happens to the environment if there is a dramatic alteration of crops to grow in locations that would normally not support crop growth? If every action has an equal and opposite reaction, that means the price for our research now could be paid by future generations.
5. It turns Human Life into a Commodity
The advantage of extending the human lifespan is a major one for biotechnology. However, people opine that biotechnology has made human life a commodity and others can control it with technology.
For example, before some process to treat illness through biotechnology is applied a huge amount of money might be required. Which is quite debatable owing to the high cost and time that goes into the research.
Also, complementary DNA, also known as DNA that is genetically engineered, is an entity that can be patented.
Such as in the United States, where the Supreme Court ruled that DNA that is lab manipulated is eligible to be patented. The foundation of this ruling was that altered DNA sequences are not found in nature.
At the moment, complementary DNA, or DNA, has been specifically mentioned as an example of what could be patented. Obtaining DNA to create altered DNA sequences for profit minimizes human life (or plant and animal life) profit potential.
It also highlights the immorality associated with the purpose of making money off of human lives.
6. It can be used for destruction.
Biotechnology has done much to improve our way of life. It has helped the world to become a much smaller place. At the same time, we still face many challenges that must be overcome.
Just like stated earlier, biotechnology can be used as a weapon of destruction known as biowarfare (Biological Weapon).
All the benefits that biotechnology can provide if not in safe hands could also be turned into a weapon that is used for mass destruction. Crops can be improved, but they can also be destroyed or used to make poisonous crops.
Medicines can be made with biotechnology, but diseases can also be weaponized by developing existing pathogens to become infectious and more dangerous such as in the case of Coronavirus. If left unchecked, biotechnology could even create a societal class that is created specifically for research purposes only.
Therefore, governments all around the world must work in solidarity to keep constant surveillance of biotechnology around the world and prevent it from being used or stolen by people that may have ill-fated ideas about it.
7. It is Expensive
It can be very tricky to balance out the benefits and costs of biotechnology. Owing to the fact that biotechnology is very costly in the world of medicine. As most of the products of biotechnology are overly expensive and less practical than the currently available chemical drug alternatives.
Probably when these biotechnological advancements are made in bulk, the cost may reduce significantly.
8. Lack of Genetic Diversity
Biotechnology provides no genetic diversity within populations although it is beneficial in terms of crop yield and production, in the long-term survival of plant and animal species, genetic diversity is very important.
The larger the gene pool, the greater the chance that a particular species can survive due to its ability to cope with environmental changes and other pathogens.
An entire crop or all species can be driven towards extinction if something unpredictable was to occur. However, if there is genetic diversity, there would at least be one species capable of resisting that unpredictable change!
9. Human Genetic Biodiversity Reduction
If there is a constant change to the genes of humans to what we prefer them to be, eventually there will be no such thing as genetic diversity as they will be eradicated.
Thereby reducing the gene pool of humans in various populations and these populations will become vulnerable to dangerous diseases that may cause widespread fatality.
10. Loss of Biodiversity
Biodiversity can be lost through the use of biotechnology. Since the genetics of crops are changed in a yield-maximizing manner, there is every tendency that at some point in time, only a few main strains will be left while the vast majority of strains that had been previously planted will no longer be used anymore. This results in biodiversity loss.
Biodiversity loss can lead to serious problems if we as humans only rely on a quite confined set of plant strains, probabilities exist that there would be hit in a dramatic manner in case those strains will no longer supply us with sufficient yields anymore.
Thus, this reliance on a few main strains poses a significant threat to our global food supply.
From this discussion, in as much as there are disadvantages of biotechnology, it is imperative to say that biotechnology is a very interesting field that could have far-reaching advantages.
However, considering that even making a single mistake could be harmful to a number of generations ahead, scientists need to be extremely careful with applying biotechnology. Biotechnology is obviously still in its infancy and can be used to make changes that may lead to the next big revolution.
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Ahamefula Ascension is a Real Estate Consultant, Data Analyst, and Content writer. He is the founder of Hope Ablaze Foundation and a Graduate of Environmental Management in one of the prestigious colleges in the country. He is obsessed with Reading, Research and Writing.