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Necessity Genetically Modified Crops Be Grown

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The world population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050 and the growing rate of food consumption results in a significant increase in the demand for agricultural production. In 2018, approximately 9.2% of the global population experienced severe food insecurity and hunger problems. Among various solutions to overcome this major global threat, genetically modified (GM) technology is the most quickly adopted agricultural approach. Genetically modified crops can definitely contribute vital benefits to our society in terms of food security, sustainability, and economic prosperity of farmers. 

First, GM crops would support sufficient foods with high nutritional values for the growing population by improving the yield and quality of crops. Between 1996 and 2012, GM crops delivered a global yield increase of 377 million tons. Since GM crops produce a higher yield from the same arable land, they would combat the hunger issues and fulfill the food demand of the growing global population. Moreover, GM crops are capable of producing more nutritious foods with multiple vitamins and minerals to alleviate malnutrition problems. For instance, Golden Rice is genetically modified with the precursor of vitamin-A. Severe vitamin A deficiency is responsible for 500,000 cases of irreversible blindness, and up to 2 million deaths of children per year. About 150g of Golden Rice can support enough vitamin-A for a child per day, thereby providing a solution for vitamin-A- A deficiency in the rice-eating population.

Second, a range of environmental benefits has been identified for GM crops, including positive effects on input use and indirect effects on ecosystems. The emission of greenhouse gas (GHG) from agriculture has become an important issue within the debate on GHG emission reduction. Agriculture has been estimated to contribute to about 15% of annual global GHG emissions. According to a UN report, GM crops can provide a solution to reducing GHG. Therefore, GM technology holds out further hope of increasing the productivity of agricultural land. In addition, Wood pointed out that some of the successful applications for yielded environmental benefits such as insect-resistant apples, herbicide-tolerant corn, and soybeans.

Finally, several studies highlighted the multiple benefits of farm income derived from GM crops. For example, an estimated cost saving by farmers planting herbicide tolerance (HT) soybean was $73.1/ha in 2016, which is almost three times higher compared to the early years of adoption. The annual total national farm income benefit from HT soybean has dramatically risen from $5 million in 1996 to approximately $159.8 million in 2016. Farmers can get more profits from GM crops by making plants yield higher when compared to conventional crops.

Some people might disagree and claim that GM foods may be detrimental to human health. This may be true, however, most of the researchers observed that there are no apparent correlations between GM foods and health problems. European Commission mentioned that GM organisms are not riskier than conventional plant breeding technologies according to the results of over 500 independent research groups in 25 years for more than 130 research projects. Different kinds of GM crops and health problems are tested by many researchers and all found that there were no statistical differences between GM crops and conventional crops and represented no risk. Genetically modified crops currently available on the international market can support safe foods and improvement of nutrition values which will be beneficial for the long-term healthy life of the world population.

In conclusion, GM crops should be grown because they can grant food security for the global human population, long-term agriculture and environmental sustainability, and economic benefits for farmers. In the future, the utilization of GM crops will be more acceptable as an alternative for producing sufficient foods for growing populations, reducing the utilization of agrochemicals and a potential way to alleviate the poverty of farmers.

Reference list

  1. Brookes, G. and P. Barfoot. (2018). GM Crops: Global Socio-economic and Environmental Impacts 1996-2016. PG Economics Ltd, UK. pp 1-204.
  2. European Commission, European Research Area, Food, Agriculture and Fisheries and Biotechnology. (2010). A decade of EU-funded GMO research 2001-2010. EUR 24473 EN
  3. https://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/pdf/a_decade_of_eu-funded_gmo_research.pdf
  4. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (2019): The state of food security and nutrition in the world: Safeguarding against economic slowdowns and downturns: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome http://www.fao.org/3/ca5162en/ca5162en.pdf
  5. Liu, P., He, X., Chen, D., Luo, Y., Cao, S., Song, H., Liu, T., Huang, K., and Xu, W. (2012). A 90-day subchronic feeding study of genetically modified maize expressing Cry1Ac-M protein in sprague-dawley rats. Food and Chemical Toxicology: An International Journal Published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association, 50(9), 3215-3221. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2012.06.009
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691512004231?via%3Dihub
  7. Oliver, Melvin J. (2014).Why we need GMO crops in agriculture. Missouri medicine vol. 111(6): 492-507. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272194036_Why_we_need_GMO_crops_in_agriculture
  8. Paine JA, Shipton CA, Chaggar S, Howells RM, Kennedy MJ, et al. (2005). Improving the nutritional value of Golden Rice through increased pro-vitamin A content. Nature Biotechnology 23: 482–487
  9. United Nations, UN (2008), UN millennium ecosystem assessment. http://www.millenniumassessment.org/en/Index.aspx.
  10. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019). World population prospects highlights, United Nations, New York. https://population.un.org/wpp/Publications/Files/WPP2019_Highlights.pdf
  11. Wood, M. (1995). Boosting plant’s virus resistance: genetic engineering research could yield a safe way to produce hardy new plants. Agricultural Research, 43:18–20.
  12. World Health Organization (2014). Frequently Asked Questions on Genetically Modified Foods. March 12, 2016. 
  13. https://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/food-technology/faq-genetically-modified-food/en/
  14. World Health Organization (2019). Nutrition, Micronutrient deficiencies, Vitamin-A deficiencies. https://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/vad/en/

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