FROM THE GREEN REVOLUTION TO THE GENE REVOLUTION: A PANACEA TO THE FOOD SECURITY CRISIS IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY AND BEYOND?

Tanyaradzwa Chigonda, Tendekai Rusena

Abstract


This paper assesses the positive and negative impacts of agricultural genetic engineering on food security, and is informed by an extensive review of relevant documents analysed through content and thematic analysis. While the Green Revolution technologies of the 1970s up to the 1990s markedly enhanced food production in developing countries, such approaches, due to various reasons, are proving to be inadequate in solving the food security challenges of the twenty-first century and beyond. Today, the world is home to 842 million people experiencing chronic food shortages. Agricultural genetic engineering, which seeks to enhance agricultural production through novel approaches, has been hailed as a panacea to food insecurity by proponents. On the other hand, opponents of agricultural biotechnology highlight its various dangers to food security. While, to date, no adverse safety issues of transgenic foods have been reported, this does not mean that foods derived from genetically modified organisms are risk free, but is probably just a reflection of the inadequacies in current regulatory, testing and evaluation procedures. Under such circumstances of lack of scientific certainty on the adverse human health impacts of foods produced through genetic engineering, the application of the precautionary principle would be the best route to take. As such there is need for the scientific community to do more research into agricultural biotechnology so as to enable the development of food products that meet wider societal concerns. This should be followed up by cautious case-by-case evaluation procedures to objectively determine the benefits and risks of each individual transgenic organism or food products derived from it. To further enhance the protection of consumers, all foods derived from genetically modified organisms should be adequately labelled. In addition, consumers should be informed of the lack of scientific certainty on the long-term health impacts of consuming transgenic foods, so that they may make informed, and independent, choices. Another important issue of concern is the need to protect traditional farmers, who play a pivotal role in conserving agricultural genetic diversity, from powerful transnational seed companies aiming to have total control over seed.

 

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recombinant DNA, transgenic foods, genetically modified organisms, green revolution, gene revolution, food security, food safety, agricultural genetic engineering, biotechnology

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References


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