Biotechnology: Genetic Engineering

Published: 2019-06-05 11:40:46
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George W. Bush during his tenure as the president acknowledged that biotechnology industry would be the contributor on the fight against terror with time. He also perceived that with the genetically modified organisms production would increase hence will help fight hunger around the world. Also, countless lives will be saved with the development of new medicine (George W. Bush).

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A human population is rapidly increasing, especially in the developing countries. Our generation faces a problem of creating an efficient system that could provide a sustainable food supply while at the same time/also preserve biodiversity and ecosystems. At least 800 million people in the world suffer from malnutrition and an estimated of 1.3 billion live on less than 1 dollar per day. Biotechnology has a potential to be a tool to reduce food insecurities in poor and underdeveloped countries. According to the United Nations World Food Program, more than 870 million people are experiencing hunger contributed to wars, poverty, and natural disasters. Of these, over half of total number, live in the developing, that is the Pacific and Asia, and a quarter are in the Sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the world population is going to reach 9.5 billion people by 2050. From 2010-2050, the growth in Asia will be about 50 percent of the total world population and Africa 40 percent. From this data, we can say that the fastest growing parts of the world are the lower income generating countries. With the growth in population, consumption is expected thus the income (US Census Bureau). This is the main challenge for the agriculture sector today is the need to provide the world with nutritious food that is less expensive, can be grown on limited land and fewer chemicals can be used in the genetic modification.

There are many opposite views on genetic engineering. The difficulty lies in deciding which opinion to agree with and which expert seems to be most credible. However, if we are trying to save the world from hunger, then genetic engineering would be a positive science development for everyone. Genetic engineering is the process of deliberately modifying genes, which manipulates the DND of living organisms. As US Food and Drug Administration states, genetic engineering enables people to introduce a much wider range of new traits into an organism than is possible by conventional breeding. The science of genetic modification is advancing rapidly, but the debate is still on about the efficiency and safety of the use of this technology. Many believe that this is one of the most efficient means of feeding the world's growing population but when we think of it, enriching soils with necessary nutrients is more prudent in trying to produce plants with higher nutritional value. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine published multiple reports urging that several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM foods, including but not limited to infertility, accelerated aging, immune problems, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.

It is important to understand that biotechnology could play a major role in a sustainable food supply if people agreed to consume genetically engineered foods. However, I need to underline that a large proportion of the population is unaware or little educated about the genetic modification. That is why in more than 64 countries genetically modified foods are supposed to be labeled as such. For instance, in Europe public opinion is largely negative. Most of the Europeans perceive genetically altered foods as morally unacceptable and a huge risk to society. Despite this, Europe needs to join the 21st-century development/expansion in biotechnology. European Commissions chief scientific advisor indicated that there is no substantial case of any adverse impact on human health, animal health or environmental health in consuming GM foods the further added that the risk of eating GMO food is less the same as eating conventionally farmed food. In the Republic of Belarus, where I was born, food is taken very seriously. Most of the population buys only local and organic foods. It is extremely important for people to know what they are consuming. On the contrary, in South Africa, public opinion is overall positive. This is the only country with a system in place for the planting and regulation of genetically modified crops. Other countries that have embraced genetic engineering include India, Brazil, Czech Republic, Canada among others

Pollan in his article, Playing with Gods Garden, explains how it is important to develop the farmers rather than genetically engineering the organisms. He explains the interdependencies between animals and plants naturally; he acknowledges that this is an intimate and reciprocal relationship. Using the example of how the genetically engineered New Leaf Superior potato is able to produce its insecticide, Pollan wonders what will happen to the Colorado potato beetle, which is dependent on cleaning the leaves of the potato for its survival (Pollan, p.47).

Mixing the traditional methods with genetic engineering could be a bit better than going purely genetic engineering. Michael Mazourek combines both the above to produce more flavorful, colorful, shapely and nutritious fruits and vegetables. This method does not alter the coexistences of the organisms (Ferris Jabr). Research on the safety of the GMOs should be intensified to ensure that future of the generations is protected. However, its better to find an alternative all in all to GMOs which can only be sustainable farming.

Reference

Pollan, Michael. "Playing God in the Garden." New York Times Magazine 25 (1998): 44-51.

Kaphengst, Timo, et al. "Assessment of The Economic Performance of GM Crops Worldwide." final report, University of Reading, Reading, MA (2011).

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