Selective Breeding Pros and Cons List
Selective breeding is a practice where you pick the best seeds or the healthiest of animals to produce better crops or stronger and healthier livestock. In agriculture and animal husbandry, selective breeding has been around for decades. Any farmer will want better and more produce. The quality of the produce may be adjudged by nutritional value, physical attributes or both. The animals bred for meat, milk or both and eggs, skin or other reasons are also preferred if they are healthier and offer more of their primary and secondary products. Hence, selected plants and animals are bred to attain the desired outcomes.
Selective breeding is not complicated although the scientists who come up with the combinations have to go undertake years of research and conduct numerous tests. Once the right combination is known, it is very easy for farmers and those engaged in animal husbandry to execute the solution. There are obviously some selective breeding pros and cons, which is why it is endorsed and critiqued at the same time.
List of Pros of Selective Breeding
1. Available Universal Practice
Selective breeding is not subject to any intellectual property. It is not available to only a few people. It is not the exclusive domain of any scientists, company or even farmer. A farmer can choose to breed plants and animals the way he or she deems fit and suitable for his or her own best interest. Of course, animal rights issues may become relevant in certain extreme or unnatural scenarios. Unless there is a threat to the environment, unless animals are being harmed and unless any kind of dangerous experimentation is undertaken, there is no law, rule or norm that prevents anyone from selective breeding. Given the advantages or obvious financial benefits of selective breeding, it has become a universal practice and anyone can endorse it. Moreover, there is no special technology or equipments needed. One doesn’t have to pay any expert to get it done. All one needs is the exact knowhow.
2. Better Produce, More Money
Farming is a business. Even if an individual is farming and maintaining livestock for his or her family, one would want better produce or yields. With better yields comes more money. Farming can become and has indeed become a more lucrative business courtesy selective breeding. Farmers can have greater yields, better quality crops and selective breeding can also lead to specific types of crops. For instance, a farmer may want drought resistant crops. Some crops may be able to withstand torrential rain. Likewise, some animals bred through a particular process will be more resistant to certain diseases. Cattle may be healthier, animals raised for meat may have more flesh, cows may yield more milk and hens may lay more eggs.
3. No Safety or Environmental Concern
Selective breeding has not been proven to have any major or even minor environmental impact that you can call adverse. There are no safety concerns pertaining to the plants and animals either. On the flipside, selective breeding has genetic advantages. Plants and animals are often healthier, diseases can be eliminated and ensuring quality becomes more predictable.
4. Predictable Growth
Plants and animals are correlated. For anyone in agriculture and animal husbandry, predictability is quintessential to sustenance and growth. Selective breeding allows predictability. Farmers would know how much produce they may have, what kind of yields one would have, the animal products one can sell and the overall business becomes much more viable. Selective breeding fuels predictable growth.
List of Cons of Selective Breeding
1. Lack of Genetic Diversity, hence Variety
Selective breeding invariably begins with picking up the best breeds in every species. Although the famed Darwinian survival of the fittest philosophy is a fragment reality, the truth is that nature intended for superior and inferior genes to coexist. Selective breeding is not by any means a natural process. In the process, genetic diversity is compromised and that will impact variety. Cross breeding and mixed breeding, variety of species and genetic anomalies have produced the plethora of crops, fruits and animals that we have today in the world. Selective breeding would have prevented that. It may prevent evolution as it was supposed to happen naturally.
2. New Health Concerns and Diseases
When any kind of genetic engineering like selective breeding is carried out on a large scale, there is a possibility of health concerns that are unprecedented and unexplained. Science is constantly evolving and so is our understanding of everything around us. Toying with evolution and breeding has almost always led to new diseases. That can also have unprecedented impacts on mankind and the environment.
3. Unprecedented Genetic Mutations
No one really knows what kind of genetic mutations a particular species or breed undergoes at different stages. Selective breeding may lead to unprecedented genetic mutations which may not augur well for farming, animal husbandry or the world as a whole. At the same time, original species of plants and breeds of animals may go extinct.