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?