Evaluation of the Rise of Superbugs

2488 words (10 pages) Essay

18th May 2020 Sciences Reference this

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 Since the earth has formed, genetic mutation occurred in different living species in the world. Insects are known for their ability to develop resistance to pesticides. Pesticides are substances that control various types of pests, such as weeds, harmful insects, and disease-causing organisms like bacteria and fungi (Bulher W, n.d.). Resistance to pesticides is a serious, and growing problem. Worldwide, more than 600 species of pests have developed some level of pesticide resistance (Bulher W, n.d.). The effectiveness of pesticides is threatened by the evolution of resistant pathogens, weeds and insect pests (, n.d.). Resistance to pesticides could be considered as evolutionary rescue and could address questions concerning adaptation to changing environments, sources of variation and origins of novel traits of the pests (Bulher W, n.d.). Over time pests have gained genes and genetic mutation to resist against pesticides through biological and ecological factors (The Pennsylvania State University, 2019). Pests that quickly speed through one generation after another have a much greater potential of evolving resistance in response to selection by pesticides than pests with slower generation times (The Pennsylvania State University, 2019). Similarly, pests that have a high reproductive potential, each female generating many offspring that survive long enough to reproduce and evolve resistance quicker (The Pennsylvania State University, 2019). An example of an insect that has built resistance over time to insectides is the Diamondback Moth. The Diamondback moth over time has developed resistance to an organic insectide called Bt spray (Resistance- How do insects become resistant to pesticide? n.d.). The Diamondback moth is especially resistant to the proteins found in this insectide (Resistance- How do insects become resistant to pesticide? n.d.). Though there are many ways to controlling insect’s resistance to pesticides.

The Diamondback moth is currently one of the only species of pest to be resistant to Bt spray.

One such approach that can be used to control insects is the use of transgenic plants. Transgenic plants a genetically modified crops used in agriculture, in which has been modified using genetic engineering methods (US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 2019). Transgenic plants are becoming vital components of integrated pest management worldwide (US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 2019). The best example is transgenic plants containing Bacillus thuringiensis toxins, which have achieved significant success economically and ecologically (US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 2019). Transgenic Plant’s BT toxins kill major target pests and cause no harm to vertebrates and other living organisms (US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 2019). Transgenic plants are very effective against caterpillar and

beetle pests as The Bt toxins (Bacillus thuringiensis) have been able to kill them off since the mid- 1980’s (US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 2019). These transgenic plants are mostly being used in the United states and so far, The U.S have been able to create rice, soybeans, broccoli, walnuts, apples and alfalfa transgenic crops (US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 2019). So far in the U.S, plantings have been in the Midwest with Bt-corn, from Monsanto and Novartis, and Monsanto’s Bt-cotton (Bollgard) in the Southeast (US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 2019).

Transgenic corn from the Monsanto Company (U.S)

One of the main advantages of growing transgenic

plants to fight off pests is the rapid improvement

in insect and disease resistance. In crop plants

yield heavy losses each year due to insect attack and the disease carried by the pests attacking the crops (8 Main Advantages of Transgenic Plant | Genetics, n.d). Insectides and pesticides which are used to control insects are very expensive (8 Main Advantages of Transgenic Plant | Genetics, n.d). Gene technology has played a very key role in developing insect resistant cultivars in several crops (8 Main Advantages of Transgenic Plant | Genetics, n.d). For Example, in cotton bollworm resistant cultivars has been developed through generations by transferring a gene from soil bacterium (Bacillus thuringiensis) into cotton plants (8 Main Advantages of Transgenic Plant | Genetics, n.d). This leads towards saving substantial amount on insectidal chemicals (8 Main Advantages of Transgenic Plant | Genetics, n.d). Additionally, the gene technology used is very environmentally friendly (8 Main Advantages of Transgenic Plant | Genetics, n.d).

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Another advantage that transgenic crops have is that it is herbicide resistant. Herbicides are substances which are toxic to plants and are used to destroy unwanted vegetation (8 Main Advantages of Transgenic Plant | Genetics, n.d). If there was herbicide contained in transgenic crops then the crops would die and the transgenic crops won’t fight the pests with the toxins stored (8 Main Advantages of Transgenic Plant | Genetics, n.d). Heavy yield losses of transgenic crops affect the quality of its produce and effectiveness on killing pests (8 Main Advantages of Transgenic Plant | Genetics, n.d). Gene technology has been able to develop herbicide resistant cultivars in cotton, maize, wheat, tobacco, potato, tomato, rapseed, soybean, flax etc. (8 Main Advantages of Transgenic Plant | Genetics, n.d). In these crops, cultivars resistant to glyphosate, gluphosinate and some other herbicides have been

developed (8 Main Advantages of Transgenic Plant |

Genetics, n.d).  One disadvantage that comes with transgenic crops is that there

are not believed to be entirely safe (Ayres, C ,2016). There have been a number of independent studies of the health effects of genetically modified crops that do not have confidence in their safety and liableness (Ayres, C ,2016). In an experiment in Scotland, for example, mice that were fed with modified potatoes containing lectin fared poorly and even suffered damage to their internal organs (Ayres, C ,2016). This entails or more research at the very least (Ayres, C ,2016). Transgenic crops are very bad for the environment and are believed to cause wide-spread damage to the environment (Ayres, C ,2016). For Example, insect-resistant plants might harm insects that are not their intended target such as monarch butterflies (Ayres, C ,2016). Also, target insects could develop resistance to these crops, requiring farmers to resort to farmers using more aggressive measures to control the problem, such as extensive use of chemical sprays (Ayres, C ,2016).

Famers are extensively using pesticide sprays to kill insects which is not beneficial towards the environment.

Economically, Transgenic crops are working out to be a good profit for farmers. Due to a reduction in pesticide use (443million kg), transgenic crops have added a financial gain for farmers of US $78 billion dollars in the last 15 years which equates to AU $112,764,600,000 dollars (Stevens, J, Dunse, K & Fox, J ,2011).  In India Bt-cotton has increased in cotton fields by up to 60% which has been converted to an income increase for farmers of up to US $11.9 billion per annum (Stevens, J, Dunse, K & Fox, J ,2011). In terms of approaching insects with transgenic crops, environmentally it is bad because of the wide-spread damage done to other species of insects not intended to be fought off whilst economically this approach is good because there is a good profit that comes with creating transgenic plants.

One other approach that can be used to control insects is fumigation. Fumigation is a method of pest control that completely fills an area with gaseous pesticides, or fumigants to suffocate or poison the pests with (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention n.d). Fumigants can be released into the air or into the soil to kill or eliminate pests (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention n.d.). Soil fumigation is a commonly used agricultural practice to treat fields to reduce the number of insects and small rodents in the soil (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention n.d.). Agricultural fumigants are injected into the soil and move through the soil air and dissolve in the water in the soil where they kill pests (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention n.d.). Fumigation can be conducted on farms, in your house etc (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention n.d.).

One of the big advantages of fumigation is that it can help plant growth over time (Taylor, D n.d.). Especially soil fumigations can double plant growth in the early years if done correctly, according to a University of California Study (Taylor, D n.d.). While fumigants can present some risks to plants, the advantages of destroyed

Fumigants being released into the air

plant-eating pests may outweigh them in the right circumstances (Taylor, D n.d.). Fumigation also eliminates pathogens such as nematodes and insects (Taylor, D n.d.). A single fumigation can stop nematodes, for as long as six years, although sometimes for as little as six months (Taylor, D n.d.). One of the disadvantages of fumigation is that it kills good organisms (Taylor, D n.d.). Fumigation chemicals kill almost everything, not just the organisms you want to get rid of (Taylor, D n.d.). This can be particularly problematic for soil fumigations because it may kill natural predators that can keep pests in check, risking a re-invasion (Taylor, D n.d.). Fumigation may also cause nursery plants to struggle due to lack of necessary microbiological activity, which the fumigation disrupted (Taylor, D n.d.).

Natural predators such as lady-bugs who hunt pests are victims of fumigation

Economically, Fumigation costs depend on how much space needs to be fumigated. Though Fumigation is very bad for the environment. Pesticides used in fumigation are highly toxic to pests, humans and other animals (Özkara, A, Akyıl, D & Konuk, M n.d.). Pesticides residues in soil and water are significant environment threats and have been classified as carcinogen pollutants in many countries (Özkara, A, Akyıl, D & Konuk, M n.d.).

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Overall transgenic plants are the best approach to kill off insect pests. Even though transgenic plants are not trustworthy, they don’t deal as much damage to the environment than Fumigation does. Fumigation spread harmful pesticides all around the environment while transgenic plants only sometimes harm the wrong pests. Additionally, you can make a big profit from transgenic plants annually from all the produce that is produced compared to fumigation where the cost all depends on how much space you want to get. Transgenic plants are better than Fumigation everywhere, whether it may be around your home or on farms.

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