Farming experienced little change from the end of the medieval age until the middle of the twenty-first century. (Baker, 2014) When the tractor became the common farm tool and replaced the horse, crop yields remained much the same. (Baker, 2014) From 1866 until 1938, corn yields in the United States were reported at 30 bushels an acre. This, when compared to medieval yields, is not much higher than a good growing year in medieval times. (Baker, 2014) Innovation was drastically stalled by the Second World War and the Korean conflict. However, by 1951, crop yield began to steadily increase as new technologies like fertilizer and hybrid corn breeds became more readily available in the United States.(Baker, 2014) After the introduction of these innovations, corn yields in the United States, from 1952-present, showed an increased yield of 2 bushels an acre per year. (Baker, 2014) This simple increase, not only of corn, but other grain sources has led to a huge increase in the population of the world.
The population has increased more rapidly in the last 200 years than any other time in history. This may seem like a relatively short time, but when compared to the history of agriculture this is a very short time period. Consider that it took over 1000 years for the world to reach a population of 1 billion and only 207 years to reach 7 billion. This is an exponential explosion in the population. Throughout history, agriculture, through several revolutions, has made it possible to sustain the world population. Through innovations such as the plow, crop rotation, and fertilizer, yields have grown and supported the population. But how will modern agriculture support a population of 7 billion people? There is no more land available and many areas of the world are experiencing famine. Global climate change has added to the factors affecting farmers around the world. So how, with all these factors, will we increase crop production and feed the world? I believe the answer lies in Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs.
Genetically Modified Organisms
A genetically modified organism, or a GMO, is a plant or an animal that has been altered on a genetic level to achieve a certain goal, such as increased yield, drought resistance, or increases nutritional value. GMOs have become increasingly popular in the last few years, but to truly understand why we must first go back to how they were developed. As early as the 1900s, scientists in England were using Mendel’s genetic theory to manipulate and improve plant species.(history of GMO) In 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double helix nature of DNA which led to the innovation of allowing scientists to “splice” the DNA of one organism into the DNA of another.() In 1987 the first GMO crops, tomatoes and tobacco, were first field tested in the United States(). Soon after this, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the Favr Savr tomato, a GMO, for commercial...