Genetically Modified Crops and Developing Countries

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<ul><li><p>8/12/2019 Genetically Modified Crops and Developing Countries</p><p> 1/11</p><p>!"#$%&amp; (</p><p>Genetically modified crops and developing countries</p><p>Sporadic and unexpected rainfall hit a record amount for Zimbabwe this last January.</p><p>Smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe and other countries of southern Africa are knowledgeable of</p><p>climate patterns for the sake of harvesting. The combination of violent flooding with the annual</p><p>peaking temperatures is leaving a trail of destruction for famers crops and, ultimately, their own</p><p>livelihood. Nearly three months ago a farmer in the district of Mhondoro-Ngezi, Mr. Davison</p><p>Mandizha, expressed his concern. "If the rains do not come in the next two weeks we are</p><p>finished . . . We are likely to face food shortages if the rains do not return soon.1Its now March</p><p>and the shortage of maize, a major staple food, has hit significant areas of southern Africa due to</p><p>deficient crops. In consideration of local famers this scarcity has a fearful price to pay. For the</p><p>first time in years, Zimbabwes faithful maize-supplier, Zambia, has ceased all exports to</p><p>Zimbabwe. Its reported that the Zambian governments Food Reserve Agencys losses have</p><p>breached 25% due to the maizes spoilage and poor quality.2The cost of maize per ton has risen</p><p>from last years $260 to $380 US dollars.2Nonetheless, well over 1.6 million Zimbabweans at</p><p>this moment need help accessing food, the highest number Zimbabwe has seen in three years.3</p><p>Consequentially, this drop in agricultural production is cutting Zimbabwean cereal production by</p><p>a third, with the presumption of food prices to rise through the following season.3</p><p>1Zimbabwe: Dry Spell Takes Toll On Crops, 5 Feb. 2013, The Herald, 10 Mar. 2013.</p><p>2Maize shortage renews debate over GM in Zimbabwe, 4 Mar. 2013, IRIN, 10 Mar.2013 .</p><p>3Nkululeko Sibanda, Poor rains intensify food crisis in rural Zimbabwe, 11 Jan. 2013,Mail &amp; Guardian, 10 Mar. 2013 .</p></li><li><p>8/12/2019 Genetically Modified Crops and Developing Countries</p><p> 2/11</p><p>!"#$%&amp; )</p><p>On the other side of the globe, Europe is facing a much divergent crisis pertaining to</p><p>sustainable development and food security. Known for their disdainful opposition toward the</p><p>rumored Frankenstein foods, these adversaries of genetically modified crops may have to step</p><p>down from their soapbox and take a hard look at reality. With a projected global population</p><p>exceeding nine billion by the year 2050, risks of food shortages and increased prices are on the</p><p>horizon for countries like France and Germany.4In a recent comparison of Europes little</p><p>supply to increasing demand with Brazils GM supply to assisted demand, Europe is</p><p>expecting an increase of hardly 4% over the next ten years, whereas the latter by an expected</p><p>40%.4 Urging these countries to focus on the science rather than the politics of genetically</p><p>modified foods, Senior Advisor for Biotechnology at the U.S. Department of State Jack Bobo</p><p>makes a foreboding claim on the matter. My fear is that it will take a crisis. It will only occur</p><p>when everybody sees and feels the pain of not having biotechnology and then they require it.4</p><p>Despite the fact that British farmers have reportedly warned supermarkets of their inability to</p><p>feed chickens non-GM food by May, the UK continues to ban genetically modified ingredients</p><p>in consumer products.5</p><p>Both conditions within countries of Africa and those of Europe compose a unifying issue.</p><p>There is a significant amount of stress on the need for alternate innovations in agriculture, yet an</p><p>impending uncertainty and a delicate trust in biotechnology with respect to food. Gary Comstock</p><p>explains this global dichotomy within the genetically modified food debate. When we are in</p><p>good health and happy with the foods available to us, we have little to gain from experimenting</p><p>4Philip Case, Food crisis will prompt GM foods rethink, says US aide, 5 Mar. 2013,Farmers Weekly, 10 Mar. 2013 &lt;;.</p><p>5Tamara Cohen, Time for Europe to let British farmers grow GM food, saysenvironment minister, 10 Mar. 2013, Daily Mail, 10 March 2013.</p></li><li><p>8/12/2019 Genetically Modified Crops and Developing Countries</p><p> 3/11</p><p>!"#$%&amp; *</p><p>with a new food, and no reason to take a chance on a potentially unsafe food.6The issue is not</p><p>particularly about countries of excess food supply, but rather those in need. If one were to ask the</p><p>one third of the population in the world with feeble food security, would the response be</p><p>different from those countries of Europe?7Those in good health that Comstock refers to are</p><p>considering genetically modified crops out of indifference rather than necessity. More important</p><p>than evaluating the risk of long-term effects from a global agricultural shift is the continual risk</p><p>of starvation and malnutrition for many people whose voices go unheard.Genetically modified</p><p>crops are the insured sustainability in agriculture due to their utilization for worldwide poverty-</p><p>reduction. There is substantial evidence that this form of agriculture could have potential benefits</p><p>environmentally, economically, and nutritionally with respect to developing countries.</p><p>The ominous threat of the global population peak has people concerned about our stress</p><p>on the environment. Theres a compelling argument on the role of biotechnology with the</p><p>genetic manipulation of the environment itself. Yet how monumental is genetic modification?</p><p>Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins shuts down this devotion for all things natural along</p><p>with a deep conviction from tampered foods. Almost every morsel of our food is genetically</p><p>modified admittedly by artificial selection not artificial mutation, but the end result is the</p><p>same.8Dawkins goes on to claim that the unnaturalness of agriculture has been a weapon</p><p>6Gary Comstock, Ethics and Genetically Modified Foods, Genetically ModifiedFoods: Debating Biotechnology ed. Michael Ruse and David Castle (Amherst, New York:Prometheus Books, 2002) 97.</p><p>7Statement on Benefits and Risks of Genetically Modified Foods for Human Health andNutrition, 8 May 2012, International Union of Nutritional Scientists, 10 Mar. 2013.</p><p>8Richard Dawkins, Dawkins: An Open Letter to Prince Charles, Genetically ModifiedFoods: Debating Biotechnology ed. Michael Ruse and David Castle (Amherst, New York:Prometheus Books, 2002) 17.</p></li><li><p>8/12/2019 Genetically Modified Crops and Developing Countries</p><p> 4/11</p><p>!"#$%&amp; +</p><p>Homo sapienswill continually use against nature. If we want to sustain the planet into the</p><p>future, the first thing we must do is stop taking advice from nature. Nature is short-term</p><p>Darwinian profiteer.8Arable land and natural resources are the two main ingredients for</p><p>successful food production. Although this remains a somewhat manageable transaction for most</p><p>of the world today, the numbers do not all add up to the same promising stability in the future.</p><p>Massachusetts Institute of Technologys Terrascope2014 Mission: How Do We Feed the</p><p>Planet?expounds upon the risks of the environments future. The previously mentioned</p><p>exceeding population of nine billion will diverge with the expectant decrease of arable land due</p><p>to anthropogenic climate change and urbanization.9Biotechnology insures a reversal affect of</p><p>this with the application of genetically modified crops. Within the last century, an estimated 75%</p><p>of the genetic diversity of crop plants was forfeited due to selective breeding for the sake of food</p><p>supply.9 So while agricultural biotechnology seems like a mysterious risk to take, its important</p><p>to note that agriculture of any kind affects the environment. Due to this, it is assumed that the</p><p>new genetic technology will contribute to agriculture in a more pronounced and accelerated way.</p><p>While many millions of people around the world have consumed genetically modified food since</p><p>its birth in 1996, there are questions and concerns about their long-term effects. The problem</p><p>with predicting long-term effects in this light is genetic variability.10Cross-pollination could lead</p><p>to genetic contamination and thus disrupt the ecosystem. A prime example of this is the 1999</p><p>Cornell study with genetically modified maize, expressing the bacterialBt toxin against</p><p>9"Food and Soil - Arable Land, Grain Production, Fertilizer Use, and Soil Degradation,The Global Education Project, 10 Mar. 2013.</p><p>10Robert W. Herdt, "The State of Food and Agriculture, 2003-2004: AgriculturalBiotechnology: Meeting the Needs of the Poor?" Agricultural Economics, 32.1 (2005): 109-10.</p></li><li><p>8/12/2019 Genetically Modified Crops and Developing Countries</p><p> 5/11</p><p>!"#$%&amp; ,</p><p>pesticides and its affect on non-target species. Milkweed leaves were heavily dusted withBtcorn</p><p>pollen proving lethal to species other than corn pests. The test, however, exposed butterflies to</p><p>unlikely doses ofBt, causing the experiment to be nullified and the toxin to be considered low-</p><p>risk for monarch butterflies environmentally. 10 Other indicators of environmental uncertainty</p><p>with genetically modified crops are related to cases found in both herbicide and pesticide</p><p>resistance in that of weeds and few pests. The growth of resistant organisms has been delayed by</p><p>the planting of non-Btcrops nearBtones.11While this may seem like a conclusive factor to</p><p>withstand genetic modification, this threat of biodiversity is apparent in conventional crops as</p><p>well. Traditional pesticides and herbicides are known to bring significant damage to habitats,</p><p>most notably in decreasing the number of wild birds, insects, and plants. Despite the mystery of</p><p>agricultural biotechnologys potential magnification of genetic variability, there is knowledge in</p><p>its overall decrease in environmental damage in comparison to traditional crops. The key</p><p>argument is that of efficiency and the fact of the matter is genetically modified crops may relieve</p><p>limited arable land sources.10 Beyond crop yield increase, the use of genetically modified crops</p><p>has contributed to an improved sustainable environment. A study from 1996-2011 concludes an</p><p>average decrease of 473 million kg usage of pesticides and, in 2011 alone, reducing carbon</p><p>dioxide emissions by 23 billion kg, as well as saving 108.7 million hectares of land.12Another</p><p>similar study examining the years 1996-2004 of genetically modified crops showed results with a</p><p>significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a 14% reduction of the</p><p>11"First Documented Case of Pest Resistance to Biotech Cotton," 7 Feb. 2008,,11 Mar. 2013 &lt;;.</p><p>12 Press Release: Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2012, 20 Feb.2013, ISAAA Brief 44-2012, 11 Mar. 2013.</p></li><li><p>8/12/2019 Genetically Modified Crops and Developing Countries</p><p> 6/11</p><p>!"#$%&amp; -</p><p>environmental footprint associated with pesticide use.13It is a wonder as to how this mechanism</p><p>for increasing crop stability and sustainable development has become, to some people, an</p><p>opposing alternative to organic agriculture. One of the major incentives for genetically modified</p><p>crops was to reduce the reliance on insecticides, of which poisonings report up to 300,000 deaths</p><p>around the world each year.14The healthy and safe intentions of genetically modified crops</p><p>could even be paralleled with those of organic crops, with the difference possessing a</p><p>progressive purpose rather than an antiquated one.</p><p>Economically, the costs and benefits of genetically modified crops vary by location. One</p><p>of the leading factors of this is pest pressure. Crops with low pest pressure are usually unable to</p><p>make up for the expense of the genetically engineered seed on high yield alone. On the other</p><p>hand, due to fewer insecticide treatments, lower costs, and less insect damage, theres a large</p><p>profit for crops with high pest pressure. One example of this is seen in genetically modified</p><p>crops of Arizona. With the reduction of insecticide by 70%, farmers saved over $200 million</p><p>from the years 1996-2008.13 Despite the many success stories, economical opposition toward</p><p>genetically modified foods are highly scrutinized on the economic scale. Large agri-businesses,</p><p>such asMonsantoand Syngenta, fuel the biotechnology industry and are often accused of</p><p>narrowing the liberalization in agriculture. Large and few corporations enforcing patents,</p><p>regulations, and high prices seem to portray their lack of incentive to negotiate for the needs in</p><p>poverty. According to development ecologist Michael Lipton, the trade off from public to private</p><p>funding proves that crop research is more directed toward the demands of wealthy farmers and</p><p>13Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot, GM Crops: The Global Economic andEnvironmental Impact The First Nine Years 1996-2004, 2005, AgBioForum, 8(2&amp;3), 187-196, 11 Mar. 2013.</p><p>14Pamela Ronald, "Plant Genetics, Sustainable Agriculture and Global Food Security," 1May 2011, Genetics Society of America, 11 Mar. 2013 .</p></li><li><p>8/12/2019 Genetically Modified Crops and Developing Countries</p><p> 7/11</p><p>!"#$%&amp; .</p><p>their corporations rather than the poor and their staple foods.15However, more recent studies</p><p>show economic evidence that transgenic crops [do not] benefit only large farms; on the</p><p>contrary, the technology may be pro-poor.16Raney goes on to claim that the evidence in her</p><p>study does not support the fear that the multinational biotechnology firms are accumulating all</p><p>the transgenic crop value. After studying several seasons of production in Argentina, China,</p><p>India, Mexico, and South Africa, all resulted in higher yields and revenue, even with the</p><p>intellectual property rights (IPRs) of Monsanto.16The most notable results were those of Mexico</p><p>whoseBtcotton increased the economic value for farmers by 83%; proving the economic</p><p>benefits of high institutional capacity incorporating effective innovations on developing</p><p>countries.16As of 2012, developing countries are planting 52% of the worlds genetically</p><p>modified crops contributing to the $98.2 billion increase in crop production value since its</p><p>beginning in 2006.12 ISAA also confirms that the growth rate for genetically modified crop</p><p>adoption in developing countries was at least three times as fast, and five times as large, in</p><p>developing countries, at 11 percent or 8.7 million hectares, versus 3 percent or 1.6 million</p><p>hectares in industrial countries.12</p><p>Co-inventor of golden rice, Ingo Potrykus, responds to criticism in an open letter to</p><p>Greenpeace, If you plan to destroy test fields to prevent responsible testing and development of</p><p>golden rice for humanitarian purposes, you will be accused of contributing to a crime against</p><p>15Michael Lipton, Reviving Global Poverty Reduction: What Role for Genetically</p><p>Modified Plants?, 28 Oct. 1999, CGIAR, 10 Mar. 2013 .</p><p>16Terri Raney, Economic impact of transgenic crops in developing countries, 2006,Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 12 Mar. 2013 .</p></li><li><p>8/12/2019 Genetically Modified Crops and Developing Countries</p><p> 8/11</p><p>!"#$%&amp; /</p><p>humanity.17 Currently awaiting approval by national regulators, golden rice is termed for its</p><p>genetic additive of beta-carotene and iron in the grain. The incentive for the release of golden</p><p>rice on the market was to reduce nutritional deficiencie...</p></li></ul>