By Shashak Saurav:
With the rapidly increasing population of the world, the demand for edible food is sharply rising. If this supply and demand ratio continues favoring its demand side, it would only be a matter of time before the world’s population would reach an astronomical level and would be too huge to feed itself.
The Indian subcontinent has nearly half the world’s hungry people. The country is also home to the largest food insecure population according to the Global Hunger Index. A large chunk of the poor die of starvation. The best way of overcoming these problems is through advancement in Biotechnology. It is claimed that Genetically modified (GM) food and gene technology will augment environmental and sustainable development. GM technology is therefore advocated as the best possible solution to environmental degradation and food security.
Genetically Modified Organisms can be defined as organisms in which the DNA has been altered in contrast to the natural process.
This technology is called Biotechnology or Genetic Engineering. It allows selected genes to be transferred from one organism into another.
Recently in India Bt. Brinjal, a GM crop, was opposed in spite of its approval from the genetic engineering approval committee. The reasons behind this are manifold and complex in nature. The main being the incompetence and inefficiency of regulatory bodies and political as well as regional factors. In the US however, different varieties of GM foods are in the market and none of the customers are scoffing or complaining about it.
GM foods are developed and marketed because they provide a lucrative investment deal for the producers and a cheap, beneficial and safe source of daily food for the consumers. Some of the modified (read better) qualities imbibed in these crops are-:
1.Better nutritional quality
2.Increase in crop yield
3.Saving valuable top soil
4.Resistance against herbicides
5.More resistant to pest and insects.
Concerns over GM foods’ adverse impact on environment and health have been raised by its critics. Though none of these concerns are fully validated, still many countries think twice before initializing its full scale production. They are now routinely inspected for toxicity, causing allergies and gene transfer to bacteria and body cells inside the intestinal walls.
However, the positive effects of GM food surpass its harmful ones, if there are any, by a sizeable margin. GM crops have the capacity to solve many countries’ food problems, help in removing food scarcity and malnutrition and also provide adequate supplies for the future. In addition, it can help in improving India’s GDP and open newer market avenues.
There have been debates both for and against GM crops, what do you think?
Image courtesy: http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/gm/the-developing-world