Pros and Cons of Selective Breeding

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Both natural selection and selective breeding produces changes in animals and plants. The difference is that in the latter, humans become more involved while the former allows nature to take its course. Basically, selective breeding is when we pick the characteristics we want an animal to have. For example, scientists can breed chickens that produce large eggs or cows that produce lots of milk. The new varieties that spring from selective breeding can be important economically because they can provide better quality food, for example.

While there are certain advantages to selective breeding, it comes with a set of disadvantages as well. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of such a process:

List of Pros of Selective Breeding

1. It doesn’t cost anything (mostly).
Amateurs as well as commercial or non-commercial professionals can breed flowers, vegetables and fruit trees. Even those who keep animals may unintentionally cause selective breeding (for example, one of their dogs mated with another from a totally different breed).

The process of selective breeding has been done over the years as well. For instance, some of the dog species we have today were specifically bred for a purpose (for instance, hunting). In his book On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin notes how selective breeding has been successful in being able to produce change over time.

2. It doesn’t require a company patent.
You don’t need to register anything to start breeding plants, flowers or animals. You’ll even reap the rewards of your experiments if it is successful (for instance, you’ve successfully bred chickens that can produce large eggs). But more than just breeding animals or plants as you see fit, it’s also best to know what you are breeding because the last thing you want is to create a cross-breed or hybrid that won’t survive or may cause damage to the environment.

3. It leads to higher profits.
Let’s say a farmer was able to successfully breed a cow that produces lots of milk. When this cow gives birth, that gene will be passed on to their offspring. As such, a farm will house several of these cows which they can get a lots of milk from and earn money by selling the product.

List of Cons of Selective Breeding

1. It reduces genetic variety.
Inbreeding is a process that is much involved in selective breeding and this can result in a decrease in variety. This is bad on several levels, including a new species being vulnerable to certain pathogens. A certain pathogen can easily kill off an entire group of animals or plants and that doesn’t bode well for the breeder who was relying on those for income.

2. It increases the possibility of introducing new diseases.
Who knows how a new species will react to their environment and what they bring with them? This is why it’s a responsibility of breeders to know exactly what they are breeding to avoid situations where the public will suffer from their experiments.

3. It introduces genetic mutations.
Breeders pick animals or plants with certain characteristics and try to breed them to produce new specie with characteristics from each parent. And if good traits will appear, so will bad ones. The product is affected by the extent of the genetic mutation because most mutations aren’t beneficial.