We are all aware that the world population is undeniably increasing each year and is certain to double in the next century. The increase of global population demands the increase of food production. Securing a sufficient food supply for the expected growth of population will be a major challenge. Scientists promise that producing genetically modified foods would solve this problem. Although many argue that growing genetically modified foods can ruin the environment and ecosystem indefinitely, it is also undeniable that genetically modified foods is beneficial for the environment and the society.
“At the end of the 18th century, Reverent Thomas Malthus predicted...that food supply could not keep up with exponentially rising population growth” (Halford “Genetically” 12). One of the major challenges in developed and developing countries is being able to produce food with minimum usage of land. The expected increase of the world’s population, and in lost of arable land reduced by land degradation and climate will expand the food gap in many countries. The urgent need for food will increase in the coming decade. In order to provide food for the world’s growing population, careful agricultural practice is needed to increase crop yield. All is possible by creating genetically modified crop plants.
What is genetically modified (GM) foods? Genetically modified foods is food originated from organisms whose genetic material (DNA) have been modified in a way that does not occur naturally through the induction of a gene from a different organism (Halford “Genetically” 17). GM is frequently used to refer to crop plants created for human and animal ingestion using the latest technique, genetic engineering.
Genetic engineering can create plants with a specific desired trait in a short period of time, but unlike other techniques, with immense accuracy. In addition, a gene is not only limited to transferences between one plant to another, but also genes from non-plant organisms can be used. In other words, desired genes can be transferred from one plant into another or from an animal to a plant or vice versa.
Historically, farmer’s breed plants and animals for desired traits for over thousands of years. The most known used gene among crop plants is from a soil bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). It is a naturally occurring bacterium that produces crystal proteins, which is deadly to insect larvae, but is perfectly harmless to humans (Halford “Plant Biotech” 29). The success of this delivery process is reflected in the introduction of insect protected potato, cotton and corn products in the US and other countries.
The gene Bt is directly transferred into plants to produce its own pesticides against insects. “Approximately 1.8 acres of genetically modified insect protected...were grown in the US in 1996” (Kotsnosis 79). Insect pest is known to be the main cause of crop losses resulting in financial loss for farmers and...