Biotechnology in Agriculture

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Many volunteer groups, NGOs and UN-bodies address the subject of world hunger on an annual basis. While aid and food support is among the most common responses to this problem, is there another solution given to us by science? Biotechnology in Agriculture or genetically modified foods (GMF) could be an answer to not only the shortage of food in many places in the world, but also hold a key to modifying plants that can withstand extreme climates and harsh conditions.  Among others, genetically modified crops are designed to increase production and productivity, which leads to higher yields. Furthermore, some species facilitate the usage of marginal land for agriculture, which could be a solution to spreading desertification and land degradation therefore ensuring people’s nutrition and reducing  their vulnerability. In addition, a better nutrition supply could be reached by adding vitamins and iron in crops. In some Asian countries for example, an improvement in the health situation could be proven after the implementation of Vitamin A and iron in rice. Nevertheless, the distribution of genetically modified seeds is very controversial, as there are various negative impacts on both, nature and society. From nature’s perspective the implementation of genetically modified crops means  an upsetting of the ecosystems balance. The effects are diverse. By enhancing the resistance of crops to diseases and environmental stress natural relatives might be extruded, finally resulting in a loss of biodiversity. Furthermore, the reaction of ecosystems cannot be predicted yet. Especially crops with induced pesticide genes destroy the soil’s fauna and thereby inhibit  a sustainable cultivation. In addition, the reaction of the human body to a more intensive exposure to agricultural poisons is not known yet but a dramatic increase in allergic reactions is predicted. Not only is the impacts on nature are tremendous, the social consequences are far reaching as well. Even if genetically modified food would be most beneficial in developing countries, these countries often do not have access to the new seeds. Until now research seems to be concentrated on the private sector and orientated towards high-income countries, where greater power for purchasing those products exists. Furthermore, patents make modified seeds unaffordable for small-scale farmers, which reduces their contestability on the world market.  Thus leaving open various questions to be discussed:  Should Biotechnology in agriculture therefore be promoted besides all uncertainties and dangers? And if so what can be done to ensure the benefit of developing countries from the new technologies?  How can genetically engineering be monitored internationally? Should there be clear regulations concerning the labeling of genetically modified food so that consumers can make a profound choice? And finally, should humans in general have the right to change the basic structures of life?

(note Article of the conference in Bonn where I was delegate last week)

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One Response to “Biotechnology in Agriculture”

  1. ngoziokei Says:

    Humans have the right to change the basic structures of life, when they are faced with extreme difficult situations in the agricultural sector. The advice is that human being should be carefull and take into considerations of other people policy, agenda, choice, cultural views, nessecities and extreme weather conditions in different margins that is affecting the world which now leads to hard environment situations. In all aspects of life, the world has to be in a balanced ecosystem for the benefit of every nation economically. In the agricultural sector, considerations and conclusions of the side effects of chemicals/fertilizers used should be looked into along with water sanitation for a good agriculture management. Reducing substidised commodity and food aid should be taken into consideration for increase on the economic growth of the developing countries. There should be rules dealing with the labelling of genetically modified food so that individuals can make a choice.

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