Contribution of Genetic Engineering on Food Security

The world is facing a food pandemic, resulting in many people’s deaths in various developing counties. The problem results from inefficient food production across the globe, which is contributed by natural factors like floods, droughts, and climate changes attributed to pollution due to industrialization growth. This requires the world to produce over 50% of the available crops globally to have an adequate supply that will aid in providing the needed food. Various strategies have been laid to fight this pandemic. One of the main ideas is improvising the modern technology method, which involves manipulating plant DNA to produce crops with the required nutrients. They have various adaptation characteristics that enable them to survive in harsh environments. Genetic modification is one of the technological application which will enhance the increase in crop production across the world, and it will aid in promoting food stability.

Two methods are applied in the manipulation of DNA in crop performance and adaptation improvements. One of the processes is the genetic modification process, which entails changing a plant’s characteristics by introducing a different crop’s DNA into it. Another method used for improving crop adaptations is the crop breeding method, which entails using appropriate techniques used in coming up with a unique plant with the required characteristics and environmental transformations. The process involves various DNA from different crops and uses them to invent the desired crop type. The classically breeding method’s application is more complicated than the genetic modification process, which only entails improving the crop characteristics. Through genetic modification, regulation of nutrient content present in the plant is achieved, which is why this process is preferred over classical breeding (Koeppel, 2005).

Genetic engineering has enhanced food production improvements, which are contributed by various characteristics that have been implanted on crops to promote adaptation. According to Pamela Ronald, manipulation of plant DNA is the only way that will save the world from the food problem which is facing the world in the 21st century. Since the application of this modern method was implanted in the last 20th century, promising results have been experienced. Improvement in crop production has been experienced in various parts of the world where these methods have been applied. For example, in Hawaii application, genetic application and cultivation of classically bred-crops have led to improvements in crop production, which have made the country depend on agriculture as one of the sources of income to the country. This has been enabled by the government’s efforts to improve its economic state and ensure there is enough food supply in the country (Ronald, 2015).

One of the benefits of depending on genetic engineering in improving crop production is that, through various laboratory examinations conducted before the crop release is planted, multiple guidelines ensure the crop is on the right nutrient content, which is required for body functioning. This regulation provides that the individual consuming the food does not suffer from food malnutrition, caused by taking food with low nutrient content. This process ensures little quantity of consumption prevents the individual from getting in malnourished conditions, which mainly affects young children and the old. This process occurs by introducing nutritional genes, which defines the quantity of the nutritional content present in the crop. Various precautions are undertaken to ensure that the nutritional content present on the food is in the right amount, which aids in the prevention of multiple effects like allergy, which are contributed by excess nutrients (Koeppel, 2005).

Another advantage of genetic engineering in agriculture is that crops can adapt to harsh conditions that do not suit the crop. This results from climatic changes experienced in the world where climatic conditions that facilitate crop production have been ruined in some areas. These climate changes include a lack of rainfall, which results in an essential factor in crop production. In some areas application of modern irrigation methods has enhanced a solution to this process but the large part of the world practicing agriculture depends on rain as a watering method. Climate changes have affected these areas, leading to the introduction of various crops with specific adaptions that enable them to adapt to such arid regions. Genetic engineering has enhanced crops’ growth in dry areas, which would have turned into useless (Koeppel, 2005).

Another advantage achieved through biotechnology advancement in plants is the enhancement of a high maturity rate. Various varieties have a low maturity rate that is mainly affected by the climate factors, resulting in low yields, for example, in instances where there is no enough rain to enable complete growth of crops. Through genetic engineering, plant characteristics that aid the plant in surviving on dry spells have been allowed. This has been one of the challenges affecting crop performance in various countries where modern plantation methods have not been implemented. A good example is India, where this application’s application mainly contributed to increased food production across the country. This helped primarily come up with food to feed India’s large population, mostly affected by a high level of poverty. The characteristics of high growth rate implemented on crops are also mainly accompanied by high yields contributed by adaptation ability (Koeppel, 2005).

Fungal is one of the crop infections that affect crops’ growth and performance, and to control it using organic methods is a bit challenging. Through genetic modification, the creation of plants with high fungal resistance has been achieved, facilitating the elimination of fungal effects. This has also contributed to reducing the number of chemicals used in crop growth. These chemicals have various products not only in human health but also in pollution. They kill microorganisms present in the soil, which facilitates crop growth (Koeppel, 2005). Genetic engineering is one of the technological methods that will help fight the food problem affecting the world. Various health side effects are associated with genetic engineering. To prevent health harm, proper guidelines should be followed to ensure a plant is in the right condition before it is released for planting.

GM crops are impacting the production of food in various ways. The availability of food is enhanced at both local and international levels by planting genetically modified crops. Genetically modified crops can withstand adverse climatic conditions. This allows for the production of food, even in the areas where crops do not do well. Food is assured even when the possibility of a good yield is impossible. More so, the production of genetically modified crops is higher than thrice what the regular crops produce.

The food safety and quality of genetically modified crops are higher than what the average yield produce. The higher and more quality yields change the farmers’ social and economic conditions from the GM crops (Stone, 2017). However, sometimes it can be the opposite such that the situation of the farmers become worse. The economic aspect is of great importance, considering that the small scale farmers in the world make up approximately 50% of the world’s starving population. These farmers are found mostly in developing countries, and their farming is subsistence in nature. The stress in food that emerges from abiotic and biotic causes is made more robust, making food to be higher-yielding due to the use of GM technologies. Food supply is, as a result, increased and stabilized. The highly increasing food demand is, therefore, met. Without the help of GM technology, decreasing availability of land, adverse climate, and the scarcity of water become a challenge to food production, which implies that meeting the demand for food is challenged.

The arable land of the world which can accommodate food production is limited. In 2012, approximately 12% of the arable land was planted with genetically modified crops (Ronald, 2015). The crops included canola, corn, soybeans, and cotton. Today, the arable land has been reduced due to farms’ clearing for buildings to be set up. Also, cities and urban centers and roads have been set up where farms used to exist, reducing the area covered by arable land. However, through the use of genetic engineering, it is possible to overcome food insecurity challenges. Despite the inadequacy of food, a significant portion of the crops planted were not human food. This was only meant to test how much production could be achieved when a more substantial chunk of arable land is put into use. Commercializing GM foods is seen as the only way to reduce food scarcity by increasing the supply into the market. The higher supply is expected to guarantee a fall in the prices. However, public acceptance and negative perceptions about GM foods make the production to be put on hold. Food safety is an important issue that must be addressed before GM foods are allowed in the market.

The genes introduced in agronomic performance in Gm crops enable commercial production and increased nutrients. The DNA and its source used in food production determine its safety (Ronald, 2015). The regulatory process may be complicated because assessing the safety of the output is affected by the DNA. Therefore, the DNA must be coming from an edible plant if the regulatory process is made easy. This step comes before the authorization of commercialization. Also, the consumers have little worries and questions over the safety of the produce. Thus, acceptance is favorably accorded to the crop in the case of commercialization. Fungal and resistance to drought is an issue that makes GM technology to be preferred in farming. Such plants include tomatoes, which are highly likely to be attacked by fungal diseases. Enhancing the shelf life is required primarily for highly perishable fruits and vegetables. The genetic modification done on such plants does not entail introducing any new gene but the silencing of an existing one. Plant viruses carry genes that have been researched and found to be human pathogens, and as a result, they are considered safe transgenes.

Commercially produced transgenics that are resistant to viruses can overexpress siRNAs (Stone, 2017). These transgenics are in high demand for commercial production and are being relied upon by farmers to meet the increased demand for food in the market. The research was done to find a remedy for the papaya ringspot virus (Stone, 2017). In the end, the GM papaya was developed. A coat of protein of the papaya ringspot virus is essential in the production of papaya. Due to this, the island of Hawaii utilizes the papaya ringspot virus to cultivate papaya. Today, papaya production has been commercialized, and the crop is exported internationally due to this scientific application of genetic farming. The rampant virus in papaya cannot be controlled through any other means. After much research, scientists settled on the GM way to solve it. All scientific trials and conventional methods have failed to get a solution, and therefore, only GM farming is applicable in the development of the papaya’s coat protein.

GM crops have been cultivated in several diverse environments, and no side effects have been verified and documented. Millions of animals and humans have fed on the GM crops, and no adverse effects have been established so far. The existing problems in society as far as food security is concerned can be eliminated through plant biotechnology. Yield losses have been witnessed, which have led to starvation and a decline in the food supply, evoking tough questions for food security. Apart from eliminating the abiotic and biotic factors contributing to stress, GM technology is being employed to boost crops’ enrichment. Genetic engineering, anthocyanins, vitamins, iron, proteins, zinc, and other enrichments are added to better quality crops. Post-harvest losses are being prevented. Therefore much food goes into storage, compensating the farmers for their work. The production of vaccines, which are rare due to the scarcity of the appropriate vaccines, have also been made available. Genetic engineering has allowed the genes to be retrieved from fruits and other vegetables by genetic engineering. The fruits and vegetables essential in the production of the medical vaccines are being produced. Food production is shooting up, which could be used to eliminate the perennial problem of food scarcity. No incidents of poisoning or harmful side effects have been reported, making genetic engineering one of the safest methods to produce food and eliminate food insecurity.

References

Koeppel, D. (2005). Can This Fruit Be Saved? As blight threatens the humble banana, scientists are racing to build a better, more resistant fruit. Popular Science, 267(2), 60.

Ronald, P. (2015). The case for engineering our food. TED Ideas Worth Spreading.

Stone, G. D. (2017). Dreading CRISPR: GMOs, honest brokers, and Mertonian transgressions. Geographical Review, 107(4), 584-591.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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