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Helpful or Harmful?

In: Science

Submitted By jessicaesh
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Helpful or Harmful?
People are always looking for a better way to do things, a new and improved product, and exciting, unusual, and beneficial additions to their lives. The source of such finds often times come from outside the native culture in the form of a nonnative species, such as exotic animals, insects to control pests, or plants to improve health or diet. Looking outside one’s country for such answers brings forth new challenges for businesses and government agencies. In order to keep the environment safe and prospering, a government agency or business must consider how the invasive or non-indigenous species will react, adapt, or change in its new environment, what harm it can bring to humans such as health risks or destruction to an industry, and finally, if there will be any added benefits to introducing a new indigenous species to their country. These questions need to be researched before introducing such nonnative species into a new environment.
Both accidental and intentional importation of nonnative species can have a negative effect on the environment especially if not properly researched. When nonnative species are unintentionally imported, great damage can be caused to the environment. For example, the balsam woolly adelgids were accidentally imported to the United States from Europe. The result can be seen in Source A. The Balsam Fir trees are completely stripped of needles and have the sickly appearance of a dead forest. When species are unintentionally imported, it comes as no great surprise that something like this could happen, but surely intentionally imported species would better the environment. On the contrary, sometimes even these nonnative species can have unintended consequences. Take a look at when cane toads were imported to battle the beetles eating the sugar fields. Instead of just eating beetles they began to eat “almost everything in sight: insects, bird eggs, and even pet food. Their poison killed predators—even pets—who tried to eat them. And instead of staying put in cane fields, they began to spread along a broad swath of the country.” (Source F) As can be seen, nonnative species can harm even where they were supposed to help.
As well as being detrimental to the environment, invasive species can cause harm to humans both economically and physically. Before 1992 there was a thriving papaya industry on the Big Island of Hawaii. However, 1992 an invasion of an invasive microbe invaded the island. “The local papaya industry…nearly vanished” as a result, thereby destroying many farmers’ only source of income. (Source D). In addition to harming human economically, invasive species have the potential to harm humans by spreading non-native illnesses. A worldwide outbreak of the SARS virus was recorded in 2003. The following year the “US Department of Health and Human Services banned import of civets,” which were believed to have spread the disease. (Source B) Also at fault are many smaller organisms that were accidentally imported. Therefore, non-native species need to be very carefully imported, otherwise there could be a repeat of the 1992 microbe invasion or the 2003 outbreak of SARS.
Although there are some potential hazards of importing non-native species, there are just as many potential benefits. For example Quinoa, a high quality protein which can “take the place of meat in the diet,” has huge potential benefits if imported to developing countries. According to Source G, Quinoa “seems particularly promising for improving life and health.” Quinoa is beginning to be successfully cultivated in Colorado, England, and Scandinavia without any harmful side effects to the environment. Therefore, if imported carefully, invasive species may be an extremely helpful thing for the environment and economy.
Unwanted affects from invasive species if left uncontrolled can be detrimental to society. Government agencies and businesses must consider the potential negative impact on the environment, humans, and the economy as well as consider the possible benefits of their importation before making a decision. If not carefully considered irreparable harm could be done to the environment. In order to eliminate some of the negative side effects proper research must be conducted. After a period of research a small number of the species should be imported into a contained area where they could be monitored for any negative impact. If no problem has occurred by this point, they should be fairly safe to import. In addition to these measures, the government should instate stricter regulations so as to keep businesses from imported potentially harmful species.

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