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GMOs and the Environment, Part 2



GMOs and the Environment, Part 2
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.77

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    cross-pollinated, endotoxin, haphazard, organically, thuringiensis, prudent, re-evaluate, regression, monsanto, potent, organic, technological, untrue, modification, killers, negative
     content words:    Round UpTM, United States


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GMOs and the Environment, Part 2
By Mary Lynn Bushong
  

1     What risks to the environment do genetically modified (GM) crops bring? Those risks depend in part on how the plants are engineered. Some GM plants might have no real negative effect on the environment. It's also possible that other GM plants might have catastrophic effects on the environment. Thorough testing, both by the manufacturer and by independent labs, is an important part in uncovering the potential risks of GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
 
2     One very popular genetic modification used in crop plants is the insertion of genetic material that makes the plant resistant to a particular weed killer, or herbicide. That means plants sprayed with the herbicide will not die. Farmers used to have to be very careful of how they planted their crops and how they used weed killers, so they could make sure that the crop wouldn't be damaged. Now, with this genetic modification that can be applied to a variety of crop plants, the whole field can be sprayed with the weed killer. This makes weed control much easier for farmers. It also makes herbicide treatments much easier and more appealing. One negative result of this widespread spraying of crop fields is that it threatens native plant life in areas bordering farmland. As many as 74 endangered species of plants in the U.S. are in danger of being lost because of herbicide spray being carried by wind from crop fields to adjacent land.
 
3     Others are concerned about the safety of the herbicide being sprayed on plants that produce food that humans eat. Herbicides are a type of poison, and many are concerned about how people who eat the food produced by these herbicide treated plants might be affected. However, extensive studies by both the U.S. and European governments have not proven a link between herbicide exposure and an increased incidence of disease.

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