Economics - Genetically Modified Food

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Introduction

In this essay, arguments will be presented which agree and disagree with the question that ‘genetically modified crops are the only way to feed the world’. Genetically modified (GM) foods are made from genetically modified organisms (GMO). Examples of genetically modified organisms include animals, plants and bacteria. The genetic makeup of GMOs are further altered by making specific changes to their DNA and this is done by genetic engineering. Developing nations of India and Africa will be explored in their outlooks on the pros and cons of GM crops and will illustrate how this effects demand and supply. The conclusion will provide a statement which reflects the benefits of GM technology but how care must be taken to ensure the highest level of safety to human and environmental health.

In support of genetically modified crops
Support for the concept that GM crops are the only way to feed the world take this viewpoint for a number of reasons, one which includes that by increasing the production in supply, the demand for foods will be met by those who are currently experiencing food shortages. Food shortages are an ever increasing problem in third-world countries, including India and Africa. A major cause of food-shortages in these countries comes from there rapidly expanding populations. The increasing demand for food puts pressure to produce and provide more.

For this reason, third-world countries face several agricultural challenges. Mangala Rai, Secretary of the Indian Department of Agricultural Research and Education, expressed that production food of from less land would be achieved only through the widespread use of GM crops. Mr Rai understands there is resistance to this concept however stresses that it will solve the desperate state India is in. (, September 2007).

Although India is reported to be the second largest producer of wheat, in 2006 and 2007 they imported mass amounts of grain to meet the gap between supply and demand. India’s government took action and approved trials in GM cotton crops and this resulted in India surpassing the United States to become the second biggest producer of cotton in 2006 and 2007. (, February 2008).

Researchers from University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Bonn in Germany reported results from farm trials conducted in India, that GM cotton crops dramatically increased yields and considerably reduced pesticide use compared with non-GM crops. ( February 2003).

After experiencing great success with GM cotton, C.D Mayee, a senior scientist, and chairman for Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board said, ‘India's first expected GM food crop is brinjal. Field trials of GM brinjal started in August 2007 and is expected to be commercialised by 2009’. ( February 2008). Similar challenges regarding GM crops were experienced with Africa, which we will illustrate next.

In 2002 and 2003, many African countries including Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe were affected with a major food crisis. Unless food aid worth over US $507 million was distributed, it was estimated that 13 million people would suffer extreme starvation by the end of the year. There was initial concern from these countries to accept GM foods from the World Food Programme (WFP); however these countries (excluding Zambia who decided to its satisfaction that GM food aid was not necessary to meet the needs of Zambia's population and secured non-GM from other sources) national governments elected to accept the GM grain, agreeing that the most important factor to prioritise was the need to alleviate hunger and this outweighed any other concerns.

Clive James, chairman of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, said, ‘India can become self sufficient in food production by use of biotechnology in food crops’. He went on to further say, ‘The biggest risk associated with this technology in India is not using it’. (,...
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