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GM crops

There are many global issues that the world is currently facing. Food shortage is one of the most important issues now a day. As mentioned in the news and news papers people are dying due to the food shortage every day. According to WFP officials (2008), “more than 73 million people in 78 countries that depend on food handouts from the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) are facing reduced rations this year. The increasing scarcity of food is the biggest crisis looming for the world'.”

There are many causes for the current food crisis. The increase in prices is one of the major causes of the food shortage. As the Global Issues (2008) mentioned that Haiti food prices increased by 50-100%. Moreover, according to the Oxfam registered charity (2008), around 2.7 billion people live on less than £1 a day and as a result, they have to spend up to 80% of their income on food. There are many other factors for the result of the food crisis such as, drought, Low grain treasury, high oil prices and the doubling of per-capita meat spending in some developing countries.

The World Bank forecasts that the worldwide demand for food will double by 2030. Therefore some serious responses should be made regarding this issue. There have been several responses to the global food crisis.

A genetic modified crop is a response that is helping the world to overcome this crisis. According to the friends of the earth (2003), “genetic modification is a technology which allows scientist to take genes from one organism and put them into another. This changes the characteristics of the organism, or the way it grows and develops.”

This essay will evaluate the success of the genetic modified crops to the food crisis and the results in some developing countries.

As a response to the food crisis, genetically modified crops have been introduced. GM crops are controlled by US companies. One of the main companies is The Monsanto Company. Monsanto is by far the leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed, holding 70%-100% market share for various crops. Genetically modified crops are those who have their DNA changed. The most common modified foods are derived from plants such as soybean, corn and cotton seed oil. For example, a typical GM Food could be a strawberry that has to survive in cold climates. Therefore, the farmer would get its DNA altered so it could survive in the frost. They would take DNA from a cell that resists frost, and transfer it into the strawberry cells genes. Therefore, the cells of the strawberry will then be frost and so the farmer does not lose money.

GM crops have been launched as a faster and more precise method as it permits one or more genes to modify a certain crop to preferred characteristics. Furthermore, they have also been introduced for food security and environmental protection. In addition, with genetic modification, crops can be made herbicide-resistant which are designed to tolerate herbicides, enabling farmers to spray weeds without harming the crop.They can also be made as pest-resistant. Crops like GM cotton are engineered to produce a toxin that kills pests that would usually feed on it. GM technology has also been developed to improve the taste, nutrition or drought-resistance of crops. It can, for example, make farmed fish grow faster; create enzymes, biofuels and other products. Moreover, GM crops have been also introduced to reduce poverty by increasing the productivity of GM crops.

Similar to any other products, GM crops have benefits as well as risks. Various people see that the GM is a chance for great opportunities in crop growing, food and medication, where this could benefit the world from the crisis it is currently facing and provide more quantities of food in shorter times. In the other hand, others think that GM is a risk to something very essential about ourselves and the ordinary world, needless, damaging, immoral, and mostly profiting big business at others' cost.

I believe that the GM food is a good solution in regarding to the food crisis. The process of the GM crops is made to satisfy both the provider and the consumer. Since the world is facing the global crisis any fast solution would be the best way to start solving the problem. The producer should take into consideration that human lives will be involved and that is why the benefits should be more than it is risks. This also means that the prices should be convenient to everyone.

According to Dr. Windley (2008), The GM crops minims the need of toxic chemical usage, since GM is made as a resistance to pests, pesticides are not necessary anymore. This is not only good for the health and food production, it is also better on the environment. Secondly, using GM will benefit the farmers. Since the pests are not able to eat the crops, this means no more misuse. Thirdly, it is a great solution to resolve the starvation. Every one agrees that there is not enough food in the world. Since genetically modified foods increases the yields of crops, more quantity of food is produced. Moreover, some food can be genetically modified to contain sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals. Want To Know It website (2009) mentioned, “As more research is done the technology is bound to improve. Scientists are already considering genetic modification to make fish, nuts and plants grow faster.”

GM crops have been successfully introduced in many countries. One example is India. As it was mentioned in the ISIS website (2004) India is the second largest consumer of rice on the globe after China. With Genetic modification, the rice yield has increased. India produced 93 million tons of rice in 2001 and 2002, and the government is targeting 129 million tons by 2011 and 2012. Furthermore, the quality of rice in India was improved. The GM rice is now made resistant to insect, bacteria and fungi. Fortunately, the GM rice in India has gone through safety procedures and it was proven that it has it has no harm.

Another country is Spain. According to the PG economics (2009) Spain is an important maize-growing country, accounting for approximately 11% of the total EU crop. It is estimated that GM seed would account for 36% of all maize production in Spain. At this scale of use, a conservative estimate of the average improvement in yield (a range of 1.8 to 2.5%) suggests an increased crop of 88,000 to 125,000 tones. This would give the farmers an extra €11 - 15 million in income at current prices.

Regardless of advantages mentioned above, some people reject eating genetically modified foods because of the probability that it could have a bad effect to their health and the environment. “Genetically modified crops will not solve the current food crisis,” according to the head of one of the world's largest agricultural biotechnology companies. From this statement, it could be clearly seen that there are others that refuse the concept of genetically modified process in plants. One of the main issues regarding the GM crops is that some of the genes used are taken from types of food that some humans are allergic to. A suggestion to add in a gene from Brazil nuts into soybeans was deserted because of the fear of causing unpredicted allergic responses. . Another risk is that other organisms could be debilitated, which would lead to an inferior stage of biodiversity. There was a reasonable article in the official website of the genetically modified food that said, if one pest is removed from a crop to reduce the dangerous effect to humans, this could mean that a food source was removed for an animal. It was also mentioned that, “GM crops could prove toxic to an organism in the environment, leading to reduced numbers or extinction of that organism.” Moreover, scientists debated that since some types of bacteria and viruses are used in these crops, this could lead to the invention of new types of diseases.

The Brazilian government took a serious action regarding this matter. Many states in Brazil have banned GM crops entirely. According to the Nature (1999), “the Brazilian Institute for the Defense of Consumers, in collaboration with Greenpeace, has filed suit to prevent the importation of GM crops.” However, many Brazilian farmers exported soybean seeds into the country in order to participate in the global marketplace.

To sum up, genetically modified crops have a great influence regarding the food crisis the world is facing currently. Moreover, it also benefits the environment by protecting it through increasing yields and minimizing the need of chemical pesticides and herbicides. Yet, it is a debatable product. Scientists have discovered some negative impacts on human's health and the environment. Moreover, as the world suffering from the food shortage some serious and fast actions must be mad. GM crop is a great response to such a problem. Therefore, scientists should examine it more and work on it to produce healthier crops and food in order to feed a larger population who are suffering from the food shortage. I believe that the genetically modified crops have a great impact to the world and such technology should be used wisely.

References:

1. Cleantech group LLC (2008) ‘India, EU affirm new biofuels' Available at: http://cleantech.com/news/3426/india-eu-affirm-new-biofuels [Accessed: 9th December 2009]

2. World Food Program officials (2009) ‘Food Safety and Hygiene,Testing Commodities, Genetically Modified Foods' Availabale at: http://foodquality.wfp.org/FoodSafetyandHygiene/TestingCommodities/GeneticallyModifiedFoods/tabid/264/Default.aspx?PageContentMode=1 [Accessed: 8th December 2009]

3. Deborah B. (2000) ‘Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?' Available at : http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/gmfood/overview.php [Accessed: 8th December 2009]

4. Oxfam (2008) ‘World Food Crisis' Available at: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/oxfam_in_action/issues/global_food_crisis.html?ito=2959&itc=0 [Accessed: 29th November 2009]

5. The world Bank (2009), ‘Food for Thought: Ensuring Future Supply' Available at : http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTDEC/EXTDECPROSPECTS/GEPEXT/EXTGEP2009/0,,contentMDK:22002681~pagePK:64167689~piPK:64167673~theSitePK:5530498,00.html [Accessed: 4th December 2009]

6. Friends of the earth (2009), ‘GM CROPS FEED BIOTECH GIANTS ONLY ‘ Available at : http://www.foei.org/en/media/archive/2009/gm-crops-feed-biotech-giants-only [Accessed: 7th December 2009]

7. Windley S. (2008), Pure Health MD , ‘ Genetically Modified Food ‘ Available at http://www.purehealthmd.com/nutrition/healthy-eating/organic/genetically-modified-foods.html [Accessed: 7th December 2009]

8. Want to Know it (2009), ‘ Advantages of Genetically modified food' Availabe at : http://wanttoknowit.com/advantages-of-genetically-modified-foods/ [Accessed: 6th December 2009]

9. Institute of science in society (2004) , ‘GM Rice in India' Available at : http://www.i-sis.org.uk/GMRII.php [Accessed: 9th December 2009]

10. PG Economics (2009), ‘THE FARM SCALE IMPACT OF USING Bt MAIZE IN SPAIN ‘ Available at: http://www.pgeconomics.co.uk/spain_maize_PR.htm [Accessed: 9th December 2009]

11. Sunday Herald (2008) ‘2008: The year of global food crisis' Available at: http://www.sundayherald.com/news/heraldnews/display.var.2104849.0.2008_the_year_of_global_food_crisis.php [Accessed: 8th December 2009]

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