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Population decline of other organisms has been an ongoing phenomenon since man learned how to domesticate corps. Many people, including me, is curious if the use of genetically engineered grops result in the population decline of other organism.

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    $\begingroup$ Why do you think genetically engineered crops would cause a decline in some organisms? $\endgroup$
    – user438383
    Jun 3 at 12:55
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    $\begingroup$ Pretty much any human activity will benefit some organisms and hurt others. What "use" of genetically engineered crops interests you? What type of genetic engineering are you thinking about? What population(s) of other organisms are you interested in? What time span are you interested in? $\endgroup$
    – Armand
    Jun 4 at 8:24
  • $\begingroup$ Do you have any specific example in mind? $\endgroup$
    – Roni Saiba
    Jun 4 at 17:12
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Genetically engineered crops are more resistant to pathogens, harsh conditions, etc. As such they have advantage over other plants in competition for resources, and thus may lead to dicrease in biodiversity. On the one hand, this is not new - any crop or animal is cultivated by human to disadvantage of its natural competitors - just thinkn of the fate suffered by weeds, or by the natural population of the areas cleared for crops. On the other hand, if the genetically modified crops are able to reproduce (which is not always the case by design), they can take over other plants even beyond the areas where they were planted. Finally, the diversity of the organisms feeding or parasitizing on the genetically modified crops declines as well, for obvious reasons.

As far as my experience goes, the issue of genetically modified crops is somewhat of a controversial subject - public fears them, while the scientists forcefully push back against these fears. Thus discussing the issue seriously is hard. Still, I would be glad to correct/complete or remove my answer, if somebody more knowledgeable in the crop science chimes in.

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  • $\begingroup$ I believe you are mistaken. There is no inherent reason a genetically engineered crop (whatever that means in a given example) would be more or less resistant to "pathogens, harsh conditions, etc", and no inherent reason for it to "have advantage over other plants in competition for resources". As you point out, "any crop or animal is cultivated by human to disadvantage of its natural competitors " - but that is because it is disadvantaged relative to its natural competitors, and needs human help. $\endgroup$
    – Armand
    Jun 5 at 13:02
  • $\begingroup$ Could you expand on why "Finally, the diversity of the organisms feeding or parasitizing on the genetically modified crops declines as well, for obvious reasons"? Any such reasons are not obvious to me. Remember, we are comparing "genetically engineered" crops with "normal" crops. $\endgroup$
    – Armand
    Jun 5 at 13:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Armand my understanding is that crops are genetically engineered to make them more productive - that includes making them more resistant to disease and parasites. $\endgroup$ Jun 5 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Armand Non-engineered crops are indeed disadvantaged - this is precisely what I was pointing at. So humans use pesticides or clear a forest to make place for a field - all of which literally means exterminating lots of specimen, sometimes on massive scale. $\endgroup$ Jun 5 at 13:14
  • $\begingroup$ Re "crops are genetically engineered to make them more productive " Some are and some aren't, but it is always in a context. In one situation, that may result in increased productivity and in another lowered productivity. For example, "disease resistance" typically has a resource or metabolic cost, so in the absence of significant presence of the given disease, the plant will perform more poorly than an unmodified one. Productivity etc depends on the individual plant's genome and the environment it is raised in, not on how its genome was generated. $\endgroup$
    – Armand
    Jun 5 at 13:20
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Genetic engineering is a process, not a product or end result. Thus, it has no direct effect on "other organisms".

Humans have been modifying organisms for tens of thousands of years. We've developed multiple techniques to do so, including selective breeding, mutagenesis, grafting, interspecies hybrids, multiploidy, "genetic engineering" and so forth. Just as with producing books, the resulting product is evaluated on its own, not by what process produced it.

What matters with a book is the words it contains, not whether they were handwritten, block printed or even carved in stone. Similarly, what matters in an ecosystem are the organisms present (and their function, much determined by their genes) and the conditions they live in, not how those organisms were created.

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