04 DecBioteknologi




Bioteknologi rekayasa genetik(genetic engineering – GE), merupakan teknologi yang dikembangkan manusia dengan cara mengombinasikan sifat-sifat genetik DNA.

Dalam era tahun 1970-an, “revolusi hijau” merupakan implementasi aplikasi GE di bidang pertanian, diawali dari kekhawatiran para ahli ekonomi dunia terhadap kemungkinan terjadi masalah kerawanan pangan (scarcity of food).

Di Indonesia, terdapat program peningkatan produksi tanaman padi sawah, yaitu: Padi Sentra, Inmas, Insus, Supra Insus, Gemah Palagung, dan Korporat Farming.

Pembudidayaan lahan secara terus menerus tanpa bera, menyebabkan terjadi degradasi kesuburan tanah.

Gejala “levelling off”, yaitu pertumbuhan dan produksi tidak dapat ditingkatkan hingga level “potensi genetik”.

Lihat: http://syekhfanismd.lecture.ub.ac.id/2014/12/03/arable-land/.


Selama ribuan tahun, manusia mampu memanfatkan organisme alami untuk bidang pertanian.

Penemuan mutakhir, manusia mampu mengombinasikan DNA melalui rekayasa genetik, menghasilkan klon tanaman baru yang mempunyai kelebihan dalam pertumbuhan maupun produktivitas.

Modifikasi genetik organisme – genetically modified organisms (GMOs) tersebut menimbulkan pro-kontra dan diskusi berkepanjangan; misalnya, penggunaan transgenik (transgenics) berkaitan dengan relevensinya dengan keamanan lingkungan hidup.

Salah satu website berkaitan dengan bioteknologi GE,
Lihat: → http://12.000.scripts.mit.edu/mission2014/genetically-modified-crops

Argument about GMOs:

GM technology remains underdeveloped and unsuited for the regions that need them most.

One problem with biotechnology is that it is not currently built for poorer regions, as most plants are only engineered for herbicide and pesticide tolerance, with the needs of developed countries in mind (GMF).

Biotechnology today is largely driven by agricultural corporations such as Monsanto, whose seeds are expensive to poorer farmers (Ho).

But GMOs may increase land productivity in Africa, where 49 percent of soil is heavily degraded (Terrafrica).

They could be engineered to endure harsher conditions and be less susceptible to climate changes such as drought, a leading cause of food insecurity in Africa.

Certain types of native crops may be engineered to increase yields. This all might be done in the future, but it has not been done yet.

Additionally, GMOs still represent too many unknowns to be a solid basis for a plan to benefit third world farmers.

Consumption of GMOs may have yet-unknown effects on human health.

Unknown health consequences are a common objection to GMO organisms.

The most condemning research done on such organisms is the work of renowned scientist Arpad Pusztai, who found evidence of intestinal damage caused by genetically modified potatoes (Randerson).

His funding was suspended for his publication of preliminary results, and therefore the study was never completed (Randerson).

However, numerous later studies found that GM crops that have passed existing safety reviews are not harmful to human health (Academic review, AFNZA).

The long-term ecological impacts of GMO crops are yet uncertain.

Cross-pollination with the wild type of GM species may lead to genetic contamination of the wild type, which could alter local ecosystems. Genes are difficult to control, and wild types of certain plants have been found to contain transgenic genes.

Unapproved genetically engineered grass has been found in Oregon (Pollack).

83 percent of rapeseed varieties in the United States and Canada were found to contain transgenic genes (Pollack).

However, cross-pollination can be minimized through measures such as buffer zones between GMO and non-GMO fields, as well as careful field planning (GMO-compass); the problem with cross-pollination may be minimized with proper planning and oversight.

Bt expressed in transgenic organisms is also toxic to a variety of helpful insects, including natural pollinators and pest predators.

Monarch butterflies, a chief pollinator in North America, are highly susceptible to Bt poisoning, and will occasionally feed on corn plants (Pimentel).

The introduction of Bt crops has also led to the rise of secondary non-target pests as major scourges.

Mealy bugs in India and Pakistan emerged as major pests directly following the introduction of Bt crops in the region.

These insects destroyed 50,000 out of 8 million acres of cotton area across Pakistan, and the damage is still increasing.

Organic crops have escaped the plague, due to their farmers’ use of natural pesticides instead of Bt crops (Ho).

Likewise, in China, Mirid bugs, which once did not present a threat to agriculture, have progressively grown in number since the introduction of Bt crops, especially in regions growing Bt cotton (Lu).

The decrease in synthetic pesticide use in these regions has contributed to the rise in pests that have never responded to Bt.

However, it is possible that integrated management of secondary pests, including techniques that integrate natural predators or parasites, can alleviate the new pestilences (Lu).

Bt crops may still be better than their alternatives in that they represent an overall decrease in ecological damage caused by pesticides.

Still, the rise of such insects demonstrates the unknowns involved in shifting over to transgenic crops.

Unknown long-term ecological effects make transgenics less palatable, especially in regions with great biodiversity.

The development of herbicide resistant plants has also led to an unexpected increase in the resilience of weeds, which threatens to create a cycle of dependence.

The introduction of such herbicide tolerant plants at first decreased herbicide use, but afterwards increased its usage and scope.

Weeds have become more and more resistant to herbicides, prompting farmers to use a wider variety and larger quantity of them (Lim).

While pesticide use dropped from 22,454 lbs to 15,618 lbs from 2003 to 2008, at a rate of 7000 lbs per acre per year, herbicide use increased from 278,514,000 lbs to 330,422,709 lbs (Cherry).

Thus, the sum of herbicide and pesticide usage per hectare in the United States increased 10 percent since 2003 (Cherry).

Insects exhibiting Bt resistance have also been documented in the United States, but the scope of such resistance in insects can be minimized by the planting of non-Bt crops near Bt ones (“Pesticide Resistance”, Physorg).

GMOs currently lack sufficient oversight.

Six unapproved GMO types have been found in livestock feed (Melvin).

Censoring of scientists such as Pustzai has also generated controversy on the validity of GMO studies (Randerson).

All GM crops should undergo safety screening in order to minimize health consequences, environmental pollution, and ecological imbalance (FAO).

The influence of agricultural corporate giants on the availability of GM seeds may lead to farmer exploitation.

Transgenics are expensive, and controlled by corporate agricultural giants.

Since alleviating poverty primarily concerns helping poor farmers, pushing them into a cycle of debt to foreign agricultural giants is perilous to food security.

In Monsanto vs Schmeiser, Monsanto was guaranteed intellectual property rights over the Roundup Ready soybean seed; the precedent may allow private companies like Monsanto to to exploit farmers.

Herein lies our greatest objection to using GM crops: until “fit-for-the-purpose” transgenic seeds are available for distribution to farmers without threatening them with a cycle of debt, transgenic seeds represent a step away from greater food security in the Third World.

However, if a rigorously tested and reliable source of transgenic seeds is found that does not require dependence on large agricultural firms, will permit the farmers’ traditional practice of saving their seeds, and is approved by the local government, we are open to providing farmers with the seeds under the condition that existing non-transgenic seeds be saved in a food bank and still be available to local farmers.


Other technologies available have fewer scientific unknowns, less possibility of forming cycles of farmer debt, and have led to equally significant reductions in hunger.

Integrated pest management, organic farming, and other improved farming practices may increase yields just as effectively as would introducing transgenic organisms.

As such, we will not promote their widespread use until more research has been done on long term health effects, GMO seeds are available outside of corporate agriculture control, the biological effects of gene insertion are better understood, and research confirms that the presence of GMOs will not harm the native species in an ecosystem.

Penerapan teknologi GE yang menimbulkan pro-kontra ini, merupakan salah satu materi dalam kuliah Etika Profesi di bidang pertanian.

Lihat: http://syekhfanismd.lecture.ub.ac.id/2014/12/01/etika-profesi/.


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