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Genetically Modified Crops

Can GM foods help to feed the world?

GM technology is often mentioned as a key element in the race to produce enough food to feed the world.

  • The Earth’s population of 6 billion, is set to grow to 8 billion people by 2020. 
  • It is argued that the extra food needed must be grown without increasing the proportion of land used for farming in order to protect biodiversity.
  • Worldwide, 1/3 of current food crops are lost to disease and pests.
  • GM crops could help reduce crop losses and increase food production without the need for additional farmland. They could also improve the farming productivity of otherwise inhospitable environments.

Opponents of GM argue that hunger is not primarily caused by inefficient farming methods, but by political circumstances, poverty and unfair trading practices.  See this Oxfam guide 

At the same time, the biotech industry stands accused of giving with one hand and taking with the other through the patenting of genes, genetic techniques and GM crops. If GM crops become widespread across the world, GM opponents fear that private companies in rich countries may have too much control over the food supplies of poor nations.

Question:  Are GM crops a practical solution to an impossible problem, or do they allow rich countries to avoid facing difficult political issues?

If you have a BEEP discussion login, go to the discussion boards and have your say.


 Case study - Vitamin A deficiency and Golden Rice


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Read the following debate from The Guardian,
March 2003

How science can save the world's poor - Dick Taverne

Starved of the truth – Georges Monbiot
9/3/04 - A reply to the Taverne article

Sowing the seeds of discord Replies to both articles


New Scientist
Embracing GM crops in India