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'Genetic Engineering will solve the third world's food problem'?

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Introduction

'Genetic Engineering will solve the third world's food problem'? To ask if Genetic Engineering will solve the third world food problem, we must look at the causes first. It is easy to presume that the food problem is due to a shortage of food. However, it is not necessarily the case. Raj Patel, a policy analyst for 'Food First' [i], believes that agricultural dumping, land insecurity, slashed welfare entitlements and poverty are the main factors as to why people in the Third World go hungry. To answer how GM products may overcome these problems, we must analyse what has been done so far and look at examples that may lead to one side of the argument or the other. The whole aim of Genetic Engineering is to produce better food and crops; crops that are more able to cope with conditions, disease or pests, produce larger fruit and are more reliable to use. As Snustad and Simmons [ii] state, the modern tomato has benefited tremendously from GE. Every variety of Tomato plant has its benefits - some are bushier, whereas some are more compact. GE has allowed these characteristics to be cross-bred to produce tomato plants that grow to a shape and size that keeps the fruit off the ground, for example. ...read more.

Middle

If this is the case, then widespread contamination could lead to affecting the gene pool (as seen with the pesticide DDT when pests built up resilience to it). GE is very expensive: it requires money for equipment, training (which needs to be integrated with the education of people about GE) and agencies to monitor the food for consumers well-being. So by the time it comes to selling the crop to farmers in the third world, it is often to expensive for them to buy. Or if not, then the special equipment that may be needed to grow the GM crops will probably be so. Third world farmers may not be able to afford very expensive equipment and have to make do with crude implements. And this brings us back around to poverty again. Nobel-prize winning economist Amartya Sen, backed by very thorough research, argues that in nearly every major famine, food has always been available. As stated in the introduction to this piece of writing, the third world food problem is not due to food shortage, it is simply that people are too poor to afford it. If we look at records from India, the world's third-largest food producer, this idea can be proven. ...read more.

Conclusion

The pope, as a rule, is very stubborn and it is improbable that he'll change his mind any time soon, and therefore many African governments are likely to continue to refuse aid in the form of GM products. But even if they do accept, so what? I refer back to my original comment of poverty being the main cause of the third world food problem. In which case GE doesn't come into the equation at all. The food is already there, but people are starving because they can't afford to buy it. I believe that the issue needs to be looked upon from a different perspective. [i] - article 'Hungry Third World needs Diet of Green' at www.foodfirst.org/media/printformat.php?id=282, written by Raj Patel, a policy analyst for Food Fist/Institute for Food and Development Policy. [ii] - page 12 of Snustad/Simmons' Principles of Genetics published by John Wiley & Sons Inc. [iii] - statistics presented by Ms Andreasik-Lyons at the Chardon LL Hearing concerning the planting of GM crops, www.defra.gov.uk/planth/pvs/chardon/001012.pdf, presented in acrobat reader. [iv] - the Food Corporation of India, http://www.tribuneindia.com/2001/20010226/biz.htm#6. [v] - article 'Atarved for food, Zimbabwe rejects US Biotech Corn' by Rick Weiss, Washington Post Staff Writer - the Organic Consumers Association, http://www.organicconsumers.org/gefood/zimbabwe080502.cfm. Kez Harwood - Biology Research Coursework February 2004 Page 1 of 2 ...read more.

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