feeding the world in the Twenty-First century

by Andrei on April 1, 2014 - 3:54pm

The Green revolution has been a blessing to people of the world. Advances in plant biotechnology have help to reduce famine from 50% in 1960 to 20% in the beginning of the 21st century. The scientific improvement with rice, bread wheat and maize helped to generate wider yield of farms and to keep up with the world population increase. The population will increase to 1.5 billion by the year 2020 and if no concrete action is taken, the number of poor and hungry will also rise. Presently we have an excess of food but the reason of hunger in developing country is mainly because this food is not equally distributed and wasted.  Agriculture is causing negative effect on the environment and it is affecting poor famers. We need another green revolution but this time better for the environment, which can be attain by sustainable agriculture, farmer participation and biotechnology that take greater account of the poor famer. Advance technologies in domain like plant breeding and genetic engineering are going to be a must if production of the food around the world is to be raised. To maintain the same quality, “farmers on less favored lands provided with … drought, salinity and lack of soil nutrients” (Conway and Toenniessen 155) will need the advance biotechnological seeds. The majority of the commercial genetic engineering plants have only use to be protected against herbicide or to pests but the benefits from these is limited. However, the important companies are not interested in poor farmers because their profits will be very low. National government, donors, the international research center of the CGIAR are the principal producer of biotechnologies for the poor farmers. They work on useful advances in biotechnology like a high-yielding pathogen resistant cross-breed of Asian and African rice. In the industrial countries, the principal center of attention of in the biotechnology is on the disease and pest resistance. But others countries have successfully develop traits such as tolerance to high concentrations of aluminum or prolonged submergence.  The growth of plants is not the only concern of the biotechnology but improve of nutritional features as well. For example, the vitamin A, precursor B-carotene have been added in rice and an increase of iron content in order to help population in rural sector with nutritional difficulties. These advances could be greater if seed will be free or have a minimal cost by great public investment and collaboration between public and private sector. Sadly none of this will happen because the multinational companies are more interested in their revenue and intellectual property by using techniques that make the farmer unable to save seeds.  They should create hybrid seed that will lose their properties after the first use but farmers will still be able to save seeds.  The Green revolution success “was based on international collaboration which included the free exchange of genetic diversity and information” (159). The CGIAR provides new varieties free of charge benefiting the developing countries and developed ones. The negotiations in agriculture biotechnologies have forget the poor farmer in developing countries. If the big companies want to have a better market in the developing countries, they should be more open towards free exchange and to ensure the public to have a better access to technological and genetic access. Seed companies should agree to use the PVP system in developing countries instead of terminator technology or patent to protect their own benefits. In addition, those companies should have an agreement to share the revenue from IPR varieties or distinct traits of the country such as the Asian rice. The industry should also accept to label food that contain GM in order to let the consumer right to choose. An open debate is necessary in order to make decision on biotechnology especially in a society that does not really trust biotechnology.

After all this information on the different aspect of the agriculture of the future, we should be focusing of improving advances technologies in biotechnologies  and a better distribution of the food production, all of these TOGETHER . 

Should we do mores test on the biotechnology and their side effects at long term? Why? 


I think research in the field of biotechnology and genetic engineering should definitely be continued because if the outcome is positive, their applications can have so many benefits on world agriculture. With the first Green Revolution, we already know that improvement is possible as its effects can be observed around the world. We can also pinpoint what needs further attention mainly regarding the poor farmers. Biotechnology offers a variety of possible solutions concerning agriculture and, unlike previously, these solutions can also benefit smallholders. I believe that the possible advantages that biotechnology could offer outweigh the uncertainty the society has towards this field. In fact, with or without genetic engineering, something has to be done to better the hunger situation in the world. Tackling the issue of the unfair distribution of food in the world is far too broad and difficult. We should focus on improving agricultural methods with biotechnology that will directly help people that do not have access to help organisms and local markets. Further research on biotechnology will yes be costly, but it will either create more data and knowledge on the matter or create a new Green Revolution. For these reasons I think that yes, more testing should be conducted on biotechnology and that the issue of "not trusting it" is simply not enough to deny the possible advantages it could bring.

I believe that biotechnology is a very new field of research, it has a lot of potential to either do good to this world, or harm it. This being said, I truly think that certain areas of biotechnology, such as increasing the nutritional value of certain foods, like rice in developing countries, can only be positive from a nutrition/health perspective. However, this would de-favorise the local rice producers and could cause an economic collapse. Simply put, small farmers cannot compete with these large industry manufacturers. Although their goals might be morally sound, they might end up causing more harm than good. This is only one example of how biotechnology can be harmful. Then again, the science is very young, and I believe it has a bright futur. If companies can find a way to integrate their genetically modified organisms into a developing market, all while continuing responsible research where they can control their results without harming anyone, then there is no reason why biotechnology shouldn't flourish in the near futur.

Biotechnology should be continued to be researched on. It is a fairly new development, therefore there may be side effects that we not know of yet. On the other hand i also believe doing these could be tedious since biotechnology is advancing at a very fast pace. Meaning we should first innovate biotechnology further before we conduct such tests. This is due to the fact that if we conduct tests not they will no longer be valid in 5-10 years. This is why i believe testing now could be a waste of money. Do not get me wrong we should do testing to see whether it is safe or not but not extensive testing on a particular food. To conclude, i believe some testing should be done but nothing that is extensive and money consuming since it will be insignificant in the near future.

I think we should perform more test on biotechnology in order to discover all of their side effects. It is very surprising to realize how often we eat GMOs yet we still don't know all of their side effects, and some them can potentially be harmful. Some side effects might be negligible or simply non-existent, but as we still don't know it can be potentially dangerous for our health to make these kind of assumptions.

Personally, I think that we should definitely do more test and research on the biotechnology because we still can't assure that the engineered food is 100% safe to consume. Sure engineered food can help stop the hunger around the world, however, can we guaranty that these food has no side effect in long term? If these genetically modified food do have consequences, million of people will suffer. More problems will arise. It is true that our planet has more than enough food to feed everyone. However, just like what Andrei said, it is very difficult and expensive to distribute them to the poor. Plus, the food will eventually go bad once it get to the destination. Thus, in order to provide fresh and safe aliment to the poor, we must do more research on engineered food and its side effect in long term.

Any new technology that has been introduced to the world is always enriched with development and research and biotechnology should not and is not any different. We should always take the long term health risks into factor but with these risks unbeknownst to us should not stop the production of GM technology. With agriculture not being able to sustain the food production for the world, and with the world's population growing almost everyday, we need to find a way to produce more food. We either try to feed the world or let the world die off from undernourishment. Already, there are too many people who die from starvation, and we would not want this number to grow. The fear of the long term health risks (if any) is what's stopping us from adopting the new GM technology. However, there is still current research and development on this and thus far, seems like a positive solution to help those who are malnourished. I believe that as long as foods are properly labeled and we still have the choice whether we want to consume genetically modified foods or not, then there is nothing but positive outcomes with the development of biotechnology.

After reading your replies, I agree with your point that biotechnology should keep being tested. However, I believe we should also already start introducing GM products to developing countries so they can grow more food than they presently are. This would greatly reduce the famine. Also, it is important to note that GMOs have started to be tested in 1986 and have first went human more than 10 years ago. Therefore, I don't really agree when you say they are a new field of research. Knowing that no side effects have been found yet, I think we should provide this useful tool to poor countries.

To be honest, I do not know whether the research of GM technology has increased in the past few years or whether or not it has been proven to be health-risk free and sustainable. However, we should not entirely depend on a group of authorities to tell us whether they are safe or not. We should research and read more about the technology ourselves if we were truly concerned about it. With only a basic knowledge in biology, chemistry and the procedure which these modified crops undergo, we can be able to judge by ourselves whether or not GM technology is beneficial. I'm afraid that we have become too dependent on the authority of science and our laziness prevents us from trying to find out the truths on our own. This is only one article and there are surely many others that argue the absolute contrary. Anyways, for the sake of answering the question I would say that it's better to be safe than sorry thus, it would be better to study GM technology and be patient rather the proceed and find out along the way.

I definitively believe that we should do more tests and studies on the possible long term effects of genetically modified crops. This technology has only been exposed to humans for ten years. This does not allow us to be completely aware of the effects that GMOs could have on the next generations. Furthermore, we should be careful while furnishing GMOs to developing countries without knowing all the side effects of these crops, for these populations are already weak and we do not want to hurt them more.

To answer Andrei's question, I believe that we should to more tests on the side effects of biotechnology. I recently read on a webpage that genetically modified ingredients can cause cancer. If people would be informed of this, they will stop buying those foods. My point is that we shouldn't commercialize yet genetically modified food since we do not know the long term effects. The products of biotechnology must be tested in lab during more time and with greater attention. Maybe everything seems good now but in a few decades we may learn that modified food is causing bad things on a long term. What will we do then? There will be no come back. A large amount of the population will be shocked. Let's not regret what we've did in the past and look at biotechnology from a more serious perspective. I think and suggest that more tests should be made on biotechnology and its side effects.

Things that may interest you: http://pioneerio.hubpages.com/hub/geneticallymodifiedfood

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