Posts

terminator seeds threaten sustainable farming methods
One of the ways that companies that create genetically modified seeds protect their intellectual property is with terminator seeds, ensuring that farmers cannot save seeds from past harvests and need to buy new seeds every year. Because of this practice, terminator seeds threaten sustainable farming methods and make farmers reliant on the biotechnology companies producing the seeds.

What Is a Terminator Seed?

A terminator seed, also called a suicide seed, is a seed that is genetically modified so that any crops grown from it do not produce fertile seeds. Because the crops produce sterile seeds, farmers need to buy a new batch of seeds every year rather than using the traditional farming method of saving, reusing and sharing seeds.

Some biotechnology firms use seeds that require the farmers to use a special compound to activate the seed so that farmers that are using genetically modified seeds become dependent on the biotechnology firm if they want to plant the seeds from their crops.

Any technology that the biotechnology firms use to prevent the farmer from saving, sharing or reusing seeds and control the reuse of seeds threatens both biodiversity and sustainable farming methods in developing countries.

How Do Terminator Seeds Work?

Terminator seeds contain a repressor gene that kills the embryo in any seed that a genetically modified plant protected by terminator technology produces. Even though the seeds produced by the plants look normal, they are not viable and cannot be used to plant more crops, which forces the farmer to buy new seeds from the biotechnology firm selling the genetically modified plant.

Since saving and cross-breeding seeds is an integral part of traditional African practices, farmers in African countries are much less likely to use terminator seeds than farmers in other third world countries. In Africa, farmers use many varieties of seeds and are less likely to use biotechnology because the farming methods in Africa have been shown to be more sustainable than the solutions offered by biotechnology firms.

The Financial Impact of Terminator Seeds

Since biotechnology firms cannot use the law to stop farmers from reusing seeds, they are relying on science to stop farmers from reusing seeds. About 10 farmers a day commit suicide in India because the exorbitant prices of seeds produced by biotechnology companies are putting the farmers into a cycle of debt and despair that leads them to suicide.

Terminator seeds provide a viable way of protecting plants that cannot be protected by patent laws, and terminator technology is being used to ensure that farmers cannot reuse seeds that cannot be protected by other legal methods to regulate the use of new technologies that are sold by many of the world’s leading biotechnology firms. Technologies such as terminator seeds make it next to impossible for impoverished farmers to break out of the cycle of poverty.

Because terminator seeds threaten sustainable farming methods, many third-world farmers are starting to use organic and chemical-free methods to control pests and are starting to replace terminator seeds with seeds that are free to save and to share with other farmers. These practices can break the hold that terminator seeds terminator seeds have over farmers, while also helping them practice sustainable farming methods and become more self-sufficient.

– Michael Israel

Photo: Flickr

Technologies that can help end povertyDespite gloomy predictions for the future among pessimists, humanity develops the tools for a brighter tomorrow. At the Lisbon Web Summit on November 6, 2017, physicist Stephen Hawking discussed the pros and cons of artificial intelligence. Though Hawking is aware of how new technologies threaten jobs, he also believes that such advances can alleviate disease, global warming and poverty. Artificial intelligence isn’t the only gadget in development. Here are four technologies that can help end poverty, provided they’re used the right way.

  1. Blockchain
    Blockchain records transactions made in cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin. These ledgers are publicly available. Brian Singer, a William Blair partner, predicted in 2015 that access to a cheap and transparent payment system through Blockchain would serve emerging markets well. How have Bitcoin and Blockchain helped the world so far? By allowing a transparent ledger, Blockchain prevents falsified land deeds from stealing the land of small farmers. With no need for a physical building, Blockchain can save foreign aid money; through the data provided, Blockchain can optimize a developing economy. Cryptocurrency provides a small, but significant, step in helping impoverished people begin their own businesses.
  2. Smart Survey boxes
    The World Bank reported how Smart Survey boxes in Tajikistan monitor energy usage. These boxes collect data on energy quality and power outages. At first glance, Smart Survey boxes seem an unlikely candidate for technologies that can help end poverty. But having the right data in a crisis ensures that the right cure can be provided. Automated information collection leaves little room for human error and little reason to put volunteers in unsafe areas.Utz Pape, a World Bank economist, summarizes the impact of data collection on poverty: “It can help improve data quality of existing surveys, it can help to increase the frequency of data collection to complement traditional household surveys, and can also… improve our understanding of people’s behaviors.”
  3. Genetically Modified Crops
    The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in farming has led to fiery debated in the past decade. But the results are clear. Using seeds designed to resist pests and herbicides, GMOs led to more yields, fewer applications of pesticides, and more profits for farmers, according to a study by Penn State. Stephen Hawking warned about the careless application of technology, and GMOs are no exception. The impact of GMOs on other organisms has not been well documented. But when Penn State concludes that “The technology may be more appropriate for farmers that have difficulty spraying pesticides and herbicides,” it’s easy to see how developing nations benefit from the invention.
  4. Video Games
    Though considered fun distractions in America, video games have immense teaching potential. The United Nations described an initiative in India that taught English to children through mobile phone games. A similar project, in Somalia, taught money management skills to young Somali women. The Somali mobile game project boosted job training and placement for 8,000 people, both male and female, by 2015.

All these inventions— cryptocurrency, data collection, GMOs, and video games— destroyed the world in countless science fiction novels. In the real world, they’re technologies that can help end poverty.

In some ways, the brighter tomorrow has already arrived.

– Nick Edinger

Photo: Flickr

Feeding the World

About 800 million people (one in nine) worldwide are still undernourished. Creating food sustainability is a growing need across the globe. In recent reports by the Guardian, Africa could face the worst food crisis since 1985, with 50 million people going hungry.

Continued droughts have spread across Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Madagascar, Angola, Swaziland and South Africa, causing the season’s crops to fail.

Even worse, unsustainable farming practices have been destroying fertile lands necessary for food production. Soy production, for example, destroys 55 million tons of topsoil in Brazil each year. Similarly, destructive crops are coffee, palm oil, tobacco, wheat and corn. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, 30 percent of global arable land has already been degraded.

While nearly a billion people still need proper access to food, expensive appetites and irresponsible corporations have been abusing land and practicing unsustainable farming methods.

The practice of raising livestock for meat has contributed to global warming by deforesting areas that would otherwise cleanse the air of carbon dioxide, and by adding methane to the air. Raising livestock also requires the use of massive amounts of water. Agriculture accounts for one-third of global greenhouse emissions and 80 percent of water usage in the US.

Because of the lack of sustainability of many current farming practices, and the need to feed much of the developing world, scientists have proposed new technologies to tackle these challenges. One proposed controversial method of sustainability is in vitro meat production — producing meat in a laboratory.

In theory, the practice would rid the food production industry of all the traditional worries of raising livestock and handling the waste produced. However, the procedure may be extremely energy-intensive in keeping the meat sterile and the process may eventually also contribute to global warming. Once optimized, the world’s growing desire for meat may have the chance to shift to this laboratory product.

Another technology currently under development by NASA is 3D food printing, which would convert basic proteins, carbohydrates and fats into actual foods. The technology could utilize alternative ingredients like insects or algae to source sustainably but also satisfy our specific appetites.

Genetically modified foods (GMOs) have the potential to be sustainable  and help end hunger, although they are also very controversial. In Uganda, the World Bank has helped introduce a non-native, biofortified sweet potato that would combat the stunting of children’s growth and help empower women farmers with economic independence. The sweet potato provides a child’s daily dose of Vitamin A in less than two ounces and gives women the opportunity to grow and sell the food.

While scientists have proposed many ideas for feeding the world in a sustainable manner, public opinion has been the crux to progress. With such bitter backlash to GMOs and other non-natural foods, funding will always be limited. These technologies will have to be supported and developed in the richest nations before they can safely and effectively be implemented for the poorest.

Henry Gao

Photo: Flickr

End World Hunger GMOs
GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are plants or animals whose genetic codes have been altered by the insertion of genes from a different plant or animal in order to gain advantageous traits. Plants can be modified, for example, to better resist disease, pests and drought.

GMOs undergo rigorous testing (a period ranging from five to eight years) conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to make sure the genetically modified food is safe for human consumption. Currently, there is no legislation requiring food packagers to label the genetically modified food that sits on supermarket shelves.

AgriLife Research at Texas A & M investigated the introduction of spinach proteins into citrus trees to help protect them against citrus greening, a disease responsible for millions of dollars in citrus crop losses annually. The spinach protein-infused citrus trees were less susceptible to citrus greening compared to normal citrus trees, allowing a larger crop to be harvested for consumption.

 

GMOs Tackle World Hunger

 

With the success of many GMO projects, research is being done to determine how this technology can be used to address the issue of world hunger. Modified crops that can benefit developing countries include C4 Rice, which is being funded by the Gates Foundation. Rice naturally photosynthesizes through the C3 pathway, which is less efficient than the C4 pathway utilized primarily by grass crops such as maize and sugarcane. Converting the cellular structure of rice from C3 to C4 will allow the crop to support more people than is currently possible. While a single hectare of land in Asia produces enough rice to feed 27 people, the International Rice Research Institute has estimated that by 2050, that same hectare will need to produce enough rice to feed 43 people, a problem that genetically modified C4 rice may be able to address.

Since rice provides one-fifth of the calories consumed by people worldwide, more efficient rice crops have the potential to combat world hunger related to population growth.  Other projects, such as editing and deleting genetic information in crops using CRISPR-Cas9 technology, are making headway in an effort to produce crops that are less reliant on chemical pesticides and more adaptable to inhospitable growing conditions.

GMOs have the potential to help solve food production issues in the future, making a dent in the fight against global poverty. Yet it is important to recognize the reality of and work to address the downsides, as the introduction of GMO crops (large, industrialized yields) to a country’s economy could change local farming practices (smaller, local yields), may dominate their food markets, can harm the environment through the required pesticides and can result in large-scale monocultures.

– Bayley McComb

Photo: Flickr

Hunger_AfricaOne of the major ways extreme poverty and hunger can be terminated is an increase in agricultural activity. Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, could potentially be a part of solving the poverty challenge.

Food products with GMOs are genetically engineered to increase crop yields, lower costs for food production, reduce the need for pesticides, enhance nutrient composition and food quality, resist pests and disease and increase food security.

Technological advancement has also made it possible for GMOs to withstand environmental stressors, allowing them to grow in conditions where they may not otherwise be able to thrive.

Though there are risks and controversies surrounding the use of GMOs, they could play a role in creating a new green revolution in Africa. African governments and donors can initiate the use of GMOs in Africa, according to the Center for Global Development (CGD).

Primarily, governments in Africa can develop cost-effective regulatory policies for these organisms. The policies would cover developing, testing, commercializing and importing genetically modified crops—most areas. Clear strategies would reduce uncertainty for potential investors by ensuring breakthroughs that occur can be distributed to farmers.

African governments can also exchange experiences and information about GMOs among each other. A platform to share information would help governments make cost effective decisions and learn potential opportunities and risks associated with GMO traits under certain conditions.

Pursuing South-South cooperation on GMO trade and regulatory policies is another tactic African governments can execute. Though the European Union is the largest market for African agricultural exports, trade with emerging markets is growing at a much faster rate. Thus, African governments should coordinate with countries like Argentina, Brazil, India and China to develop regulations for trading GMOS.

Lastly, the CDG says that donors should provide technology-neutral support for research and development for food security. Donors should also build capacity to facilitate trade in GMOs. African countries need support for research on modified staple crops, which donors can provide. In addition, EU donors should also provide technical and financial support due to its role as a major market.

Genetic modification is just one of many technologies that can improve agricultural productivity in Africa and the investments required to implement them could improve agricultural productivity as a whole.

Kerri Whelan

Photo:  Flickr

africas_food_crisis
Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are often touted as the solution to Africa’s food crisis. However, some argue that the solution has been there all along, in the form of native plants.

A 2010 study recently highlighted in Nature found that, in most cases, indigenous plants contained much higher concentrations of key nutrients, such as vitamin A and C, than non-native varieties. In the case of the native Moringa tree, its leaves pack three times more vitamin A than carrots and seven times more vitamin C than oranges.

While some modified non-native crops do contain much higher percentages of certain nutrients, such as the well-known “Golden Rice” which was created to combat vitamin A deficiency, the harsh climate in much of Africa makes growing non-native crops much more challenging. In addition to having considerable nutritional content, indigenous crops are hardier and faster growing than their exotic counterparts.

With predictions of global climate change causing weather patterns to become more erratic, with sudden rains and long periods of drought, native plants that have spent thousands of years adapting to Africa’s already intense climate could offer a much more reliable food source in the face of such dramatic changes. “Most of the traditional varieties are ready for harvest much faster than non-native crops, so they could be promising options if the rainy seasons become more erratic—one of the predicted outcomes of global warming,” wrote Cernansky, author of the Nature article.

Despite their advantages, native crops make up only a tiny fraction of total agricultural sales. In Kenya, native plants only account for roughly 6 percent of the market, despite the country seeing a 25 percent increase in the land area dedicated to native plants from 2011 to 2013. Much of the lag is due to poor or unreliable infrastructure restricting access to market opportunities. According to Lusike Wasilwa, assistant director of horticulture at Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation, more research is needed to address the issues of production, storage and marketing of native plants.

While it is clear that native plants will not be able to solve Africa’s food crisis overnight, they may offer a cheap and elegant solution in the future.

Gina Lehner

Sources: SciDev.net, Mother Jones
Photo: SciDev.net

GMOs_in_Nigeria

A small study conducted seven years ago showed that a majority of Nigerian scientists had a low awareness about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and their harmful effects. But today, with the help of the Internet and the explosion of social media in Nigeria, people are even more aware.

And with this awareness comes resentment and resistance.

By becoming educated about genetically modified plants, opponents have pointed out their damage to biodiversity. Native plants have become sparse compared to the genetically modified plants that seem to grow with ease.

Opponents have also raised the question over whether consuming genetically modified plants has negative health consequences.

Although Nigerian scientists and GMO supporters reassure that genetically modified food is safe for the consumer, the critics counter that developed countries do not consider GMOs to be safe. By taking into account that developed countries have even stronger risk assessment and regulatory systems, there are still many critics in Nigeria.

GMOs have been coined “the Monsanto Poison” in Nigeria because of the Monsanto Company’s role in Agent Orange. This herbicide was used during the Vietnam War by the United States and has had lasting effects on the health of veterans. Agent Orange was strategically used to deplete vegetation cover and as a way to force starvation on the population. This has caused Nigerians to have a generally negative view of GMOs.

However, there are still some scientists and proponents in Nigeria that would like to expand the use of genetically modified plants. By being able to modify the plants, scientists are able to better understand their biology and physiology.

Genetic engineering has also improved crops such as cotton, soybeans, tomatoes, coffee and bananas. Plants can also be modified to have a higher protein content and higher oil yield. This could all improve the nutrition of those that consume them.

Scientists in support of GMOs in Nigeria also note that GMO technology could be a solution to the challenges that face global food production. Climate change, population growth and competition for land have all affected how food is produced and its quantity.

The debate over the safety of genetically modified organisms has been developing for over 40 years. However, if this technology can be scientifically proven to be safe for consumers, GMOs could feed the world’s hungry. The approval of GMOs in Nigeria would not only be a huge success for science, but also for those in need of food.

GMOs could be the key in solving food shortages, but only time will tell if GMOs are deemed safe for consumers.

– Kerri Szulak

Sources: Genetic Literacy Project, Risk Science Center
Photo: biodiverseed

Genetically Engineered Bananas
Deficiency in Vitamin A causes preventable blindness and an increased chance of disease and death for children across the globe in developing countries. Approximately 250 million preschool-aged children are deficient in Vitamin A. Between 250,000 and 500,000 children become blind every year due to Vitamin A deficiencies and around half of these children die within a year after becoming blind.

Recently, scientists at Queensland University of Technology have been working on genetically engineering a banana that will help prevent deficiencies in Vitamin A.

Genetically modified foods are foods that do not occur naturally but, instead, are created by scientists altering their genetic material. Genetically modified foods have been used to increase food production by making plants larger or making them more resistant to disease. Genetically modified foods could be used to increase the amount of nutrients in food — such as with Vitamin A-concentrated bananas — decreasing food allergies or making foods easier to grow.

While recognizing the advantages to global health that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) would offer, many are worried about the possible negative side effects. Critics have noted the lack of research about future health issues that may arise due to the consumption of genetically modified foods. More research over time would be necessary for scientists to weigh their advantages and disadvantages.

These genetically engineered bananas have an increased level of beta-carotene in them. Beta-carotene is then converted to Vitamin A by the body after being ingested.

In the past few years, similar research has been done to create “golden rice”— rice with increased levels of beta-carotene. Critics have also been skeptical about the risks involved with this project.

If the bananas are effective in increasing Vitamin A levels, the scientists will work to begin distributing these genetically engineered bananas in Uganda by 2020 to begin decreasing the rates of Vitamin A deficiency-related diseases, blindness and death.

– Lily Tyson

Sources: The Guardian, HealthLine, PHG Foundation, WHO
Photo: Carnarvon

World Hunger Solutions
Approximately 1 billion people worldwide live in hunger, despite the fact that there is enough food on the planet to feed all 7 billion of the world’s living humans. Here are five world hunger solutions:

1. Feeding Programs and Food Aid Donations

Probably the most obvious of the five solutions, the most immediate, if not the most sustainable, way to end hunger is to put food directly in the hands of those who are hungry. Feeding programs and efficient food aid donations have proven to be an extremely effective way of doing so.

Getting food to the hungry until they are able to produce it themselves is not a matter of implementing feeding programs and donating food – it’s about making the programs that already exist more effective. For instance, the Food for Peace Reform Act of 2014 that was introduced in Congress on June 3 strives to greatly increase the economic effectiveness of U.S. food aid by ending requirements that food aid must be purchased domestically rather than locally, a requirement that significantly drives up the price of food.

By turning a careful eye to the programs that are in place today and making slight reforms to them where necessary, it is possible to feed millions more people around the world.

2. Education and School Meals

Providing all school-aged children with a proper education is one of the most effective ways of ensuring that they don’t face hunger as adults. By providing kids with the knowledge and skills to procure jobs, education prepares them to be self-sufficient in the real world.

It’s important, though, to make sure that children are fed while they’re in school. Not only does this encourage them (especially those children who do not receive enough to eat at home) to come to school, but it also increases their focus and improves their performance while they’re in the classroom.

3. Sustainable, Practical and Dependable Agriculture

Implementing sustainable, practical and dependable agriculture is a three-fold task: international aid organizations must work with farmers and communities to promote vegetarian diets, embrace GMOs and adopt urban farming practices. Only by accomplishing each of these tasks will hungry communities be able to produce enough food to sustain themselves in the immediate future.

Why vegetarian? It can be a hard sell, it’s true – especially in places where meat is already a large portion of the local cuisine or plays a role in a cultural tradition. While we certainly don’t want to interfere in local cultures, reducing the global demand for meat is an important step toward making more food available for the hungry. It is estimated that for every 100 calories fed to a cow, a human will reap only 2.5 calories from eating its beef. Calorically, raising livestock for the sole purpose of eventually consuming them is extremely expensive. By decreasing the size of the meat industry, we could simultaneously decrease worldwide hunger.

Genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs, are another controversial topic. GMOs indisputably play a large role in helping the hungry, especially in nations where meteorological events are wreaking havoc on the agricultural yield. Some GMOs are specifically modified to be more resistant to droughts or floods than are conventional organisms, making them especially hardy in tropical and arid regions of the world. Planting GMOs in nations with extreme climates makes their populations less vulnerable to hunger. Better yet, many GMOs are nutritionally-enriched.

Urban farming has also captured headlines recently, but is usually cast in a positive light. That’s because the practice makes efficient use of urban space that is often overlooked and underused. Poverty is becoming an increasingly-urbanized affliction, with over 28 percent of poverty worldwide occurring in cities. In Asia, a staggering 50 percent of the impoverished live in urban areas. In order to get food into urban areas, it’s time we start producing food in urban areas. Urban farming is the answer to increasing food security in cities. It’s already proven to be extremely effective at reducing hunger for those living in Indian slums.

These agricultural adaptations certainly won’t come easy in many parts of the world, but implementing these changes even over a period of time is sure to yield major results.

4. Women

Despite making up more than half of the world’s population, women often exercise less agency when it comes to decision-making and have less access to resources such as education than do their male counterparts. These inequalities are just part of the reason why women experience hunger at higher rates than men do. Ironically, it’s women who do most of the world’s agricultural work. In Africa, 80 percent of farm workers are women; unfortunately, though they work with food all day, many of them don’t have enough of their own to keep themselves and their families well-nourished.

Investing in these women, however, is an unexpected way of bringing world hunger to an end. Typically, food goes farther in the hands of women than in the hands of men – it is more likely to nourish more members of the family, especially children. In regards to children, pregnant women are particularly in need of adequate nutrients – healthy mothers bear healthy kids.

Giving a woman food and the power to afford and obtain her own food in the future is the best way of ensuring that she and her family do not suffer from hunger. In Brazil, children are 20 percent more likely to survive to adulthood when their mothers control the family’s income. It’s time to invest in women – investing in them is investing in ending hunger.

Another way the U.S. can invest in women is by making contraception affordable, accessible and understandable to them worldwide. Globally, we’re facing a crisis of overpopulation, and more mouths are more difficult to feed. Lowering worldwide fertility rates is a key part of solving hunger.

5. Infants

Babies are particularly vulnerable to disease and infection, and hunger and malnutrition only exaggerate that weakness. By giving babies a healthy, well-nourished start to life, we give them a greater chance at making it to adulthood.

How does this end world hunger? Healthy children can attend school, grow up to find employment and make better lives for their own children. A healthy populace begins at birth.

World hunger isn’t going to end tomorrow. But by understanding some of the tactics we can use to end it, we might sooner bring about a world where everyone is well-fed, healthy and happy.

– Elise L. Riley

Sources: The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2, Food for Life, Borgen Project, World Watch, WFP

hunger_fighting_strategies
Hunger is a persistent problem in communities worldwide. While poor nations face a disproportionate amount of hunger when compared to their wealthier cousins, rich nations are not themselves immune. As the world population continues to rise, hunger fighting strategies become a more urgent need in every country.

Fortunately, scientists, engineers and thinkers are responding with new solutions. Each of these hunger fighting strategies is far-reaching in its scope, but every one of them desires to be achievable, sustainable and profitable. Below are just three of the hunger fighting strategies being suggested as this century’s answer to hunger.

1. Farming Fish

In 2014, approximately half of the fish we consume is caught in the wild, whereas the other half is farmed in a practice called “aquaculture.” In the world’s rivers and oceans, over-fishing is a looming reality, and by 2030, the World Bank predicts that at least 62 percent of the fish we eat will come from aquaculture farms.

Aquaculture is a developing industry in parts of the globe, but with the right resources, fish farming could be an effective tool in fighting hunger in even the poorest places. Fish provide a high-quality source of protein, and when these fish are farmed rather than caught in the wild, that source is also replenishing.

The main goals of aquaculture are to be sustainable, environmentally-friendly and technologically advanced. On the most high-tech fish farms, video surveillance provides a solution to wastage, allowing farmers to better monitor over-feeding and dispense less feed per fish.

Sainsbury’s, a major chain of supermarkets in the U.K., has declared that all of the fish it sells will be produced via aquaculture by 2020. Other companies and countries are taking note.

2. Improving Rice

On May 28, in celebration of World Hunger Day, the web-based journal “GigaScience” announced that it plans to publish the first of the articles produced by the 3000 Rice Genomes Project.

The project, a collaborative mission by the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), aims to go public with the gene sequences of 3000 rice strains. Researchers and farmers alike can delight at this information which will do wonders in fighting hunger.

Sixteen poverty-stricken African and Asian countries have been named the intended beneficiaries of this project, though researchers worldwide will also be able to access the article. The 3000 gene sequences are compiled into 13.4 terabytes of information, all of which can be used in selective breeding programs.

Up until this time, breeders have had to rely on the outward characteristics of rice in order to make their selections. As a result, useless or counter-productive recessive traits — not outwardly visible but apparent in later generations — have slipped through the cracks. With the help of the 3000 Rice Genomes Project, scientists can select for very specific traits, including ones linked to drought resistance, higher yield and more. These improvements will mean more money for farmers and more food for families.

3. Exploring GMOs

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, have developed a largely unfounded negative association. Produced by genetic engineering, GMOs are super-crops with high yields and great nutritional values. Most require fewer pesticides than their unmodified versions, and some may even require less water.

The stigma against GMOs developed largely in Europe, where Monsanto, an American company, tried to sell their modified product on European markets. Politicians responded with a terrific resistance to the GMOs, decrying them as “unsafe.” These claims were largely unsubstantiated.

As a result of decades-long campaigns against GMOs, Europeans have spread their fear to other parts of the world, including those most in need of the super-crops. Communities in Asia and Africa are already fighting hunger with the aid of GMOs, but too much pressure from anti-GMO campaigners may threaten their availability.

In order to end world hunger, GMOs must grow in popularity, not decline. Scientists are being called upon to prove the safety of genetically modified organisms, though the stigma against them may be hard to break.

With each of these three hunger fighting strategies, farmers, scientists and consumers can work to lessen world food shortages. With the help of all three, they could even put an end to hunger.

– Patricia Mackey

Sources: Boston Globe, CNBC, Science Codex
Photo: PSMAG