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A Response to the Global Food Crisis: Genetically Modified Organisms

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Katia Veilleux

on 23 March 2012

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Transcript of A Response to the Global Food Crisis: Genetically Modified Organisms

Global Food Crisis A response:
Genetically Modified Organisms
Sharp increase in basic food prices caused by a shortage of commodities. There have been several food crisis throughout history however, the 2011-present food crisis in the horn of Africa is the most recent and most devastating to date. The Basics Causes Role of Globalization Rising global temperatures have intensified El Ñino and La Niña in the southern hemisphere.

Extreme hot temperatures cause devastating natural disasters.

Other environmental issues include; dustbowls eliminating topsoil, plant withering heat, eroding soil, abandoned land due to soil erosion, overgrazing, reducing aquifers…

Environmental factors stifling production results in a dependence on imported foods.

Lack of Food and Commodities:

Causes a sharp increase in prices.

Lack of local farmers do to the non-profitability of independent farming. Importation becomes the main source of food. The global economy
Interconnection of the global market (Oil)
Environmental impacts caused by transnational corporations are being spread worldwide.

*The Food Crisis mainly affects developing countries, however it is a global issue since these countries depend on others for aid and food security.
Communication Technology Prioritizing Smallholder Farmers
Education Solutions Indirect impacts The use of information communication technology helps increase the flow of knowledge so farmers in developing countries can exchange information about:

What sort of seed to use in a particular season
Weather forecasts
Determining market value of animals

This helps transform social, industrial and business processes to achieve sustainability.

Requires more funding
Lack of electricity in certain developing countries

One Solution:
Solar powered internet facilities to adapt to climatic changes
These allow farmers to access climate adaptation and boost their understanding of concepts via internet, video and books.
solutions continued... Limited access to improved seeds, extension advice, and fertilizer
Need to be supported in sustainable ways.

World Bank Response Policy advice: Instruments used include rapid country diagnostics, high-level dialogue, public communications, and in-depth analytical work.

Expedited Financial Support: Rapid financing facility providing financial assistance as well as policy and technical advice to the poorest and most vulnerable countries.

Research to address critical knowledge gaps
Developing countries require universities that need to train people who are capable of creating, working and leading the development of sophisticated agriculture sectors. Challenge:
GMOs and privatisation Future Predictions Devil’s Advocate – The Advantages of GMOs “Biotechnology benefits the environment in several ways. Crops can be produced with fewer pesticides while increasing a crop’s own ability to fight pests and diseases. These new crops encourage farming techniques that preserve precious topsoil, reduce soil erosion and runoff into streams and rivers, and even reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
– Monsanto Corporation (2000)

Cold tolerant/Drought tolerant

Produce more food on the same area of land, reducing pressure to expand into wilderness, rainforest, or marginal lands.

Produces plants that contain essential amino acids as well as other nutritionally enriched crops.

Reduces post-harvest loss of food via substantial shelf life

Pest resistant, herbicide and virus tolerant
The Global Food Crisis Numerous factors contribute to this ‘global crisis’ for food
Domestic and external causes: e.g. changing consumption patterns, climate change, and globalization.

Numerous proposals to alleviate the pressure on the agriculture sector can be extremely controversial
Genetically Modified Organisms/Foods
“Demand from consumers in rapidly growing economies will increase, population will continue to grow, and further growth in biofuels will place additional demands on the food system. On the supply side, there are challenges due to increasingly scarce natural resources in some regions as well as declining rates of growth for some commodities. Food price volatility may increase due to stronger linkages between agriculture and energy markets, as well as an increased frequency of weather shocks”.

- State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011, Food and Agriculture Organization (2011)
Risks, unknowns and challenges The impacts of GMOs are still widely unknown. Potential risks might not manifest immediately.

Pests can eventually become resistant to pesticides and other chemicals used, demanding for stronger pesticides to be used over time.

Genetically Modified breeds can cross pollinate through the air, riddling neighboring fields with undesired hybrid breeds. This eventually changes the components of a traditional farmer's field, making so that his crops also need chemicals to overcome pests (crop hybrydization).
This impedes on farmers' ability to practice traditional/organic farming (as GM content is now present in their field) Direct impact Chemicals intended to target pests/weeds/insects inevitably affect unintended species.

Human impact:
those who work with pesticides
unknown toxins that remain on crops after harvest

Environmental impacts:
toxins applied through vapor can drift through the atmosphere
seep in groundwater (which is partly used for human consumption)
damage topsoil (potentially impede future use of field)

Reduced Stewardship
Crops that are genetically modified to resist disease, frost, drought and require less water are proof of a stronger gene. However, this can eventually become a disincentive for us, farmers in particular, to be good stewards of the land. Will we eventually rely on science over good land and water management?

In Sub-Saharan Africa, smallholders save 60%-70% of seeds from previous years. The rest are gained through exchange or borrowing between neighbors and family. Only 10% of crops are bought in the formal market.

As per the WB and IMF, liberalisation of seed networks resulted in the privatisation of parastatals following structural adjustment policies.
This means:
liberalisation of seed distribution/multiplication
restrictions of public research (limited to large, private corporations)

Large corporations produce "terminator seeds" that cannot be saved for future seasons and pesticides that are only efficient with their seeds. Therefore, farmers who didn't use persiticides before, are now subject to additional costs (yearly seed/pesticides) as a result of privatisation.

International community still ambivalent about GMOs, their risks on health, environment and equivocal impacts on small scale farmers, who are now becoming the target of private corporations. (EU strict restrictions on GMO) Bilbiography
Ando, A. & Khanna, M. (2000). Environmental costs and benefits of genetically modified crops. American Behavioral Scientist, 44(3), 435-463.
Conceicao, P. & Mendoza, R. (2009). Anatomy of the global food crisis. Third World Quarterly, 30(6), 1159-1182.
Godoy, Julio. (2011). Global Issues, Global Warming Behind Somali Drought. Retrieved January 13th, 2012, from <http://www.globalissues.org/news/2011/08/26/10989>
Guruswamy, Lakshman. (2002). Sustainable Agriculture: Do GMOS Imperil Biosafety?. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, 9(2), 461-500.
Maxwell, D., Webb, P., Coates, J., & Wirth, J. (2010). Fit for purpose? Rethinking food security responses in protracted humanitarian crises. Food Policy, 35, 91-97.
McMichael, P. & Schneider, M. (2011). Food security politics and the millennium development goals. Third World Quarterly, 32(1), 119-139.
McPherson, Peter. (2008). The Global Food Crisis: Causes and Solutions. NASULGC
Phipps, R.H. & Park, J.R. (2002). Environmental Benefits of Genetically Modified Crops: Global and European Perspectives on Their Ability to Reduce Pesticide Use. Journal of Animal and Feed Sciences, 11, 1-18.
Vivas, Esther. (2008). International View Point, Food Crisis: Cause and Consequences and alternative. Retrieved January 13th, 2012, from <http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article1774>
State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011: How does international price volatility affect domestic economies and food se“Thecurity”. (2011). Retrieved from the Food and Agriculture Organization site: <http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/en/>
“Global Food Crisis: At a Glance”. (2011). Retrieved from The World Bank site: <http://go.worldbank.org/F28Z012480>
Esipisu, I. (2011). Farming By Phone. Retrieved from: <http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=106028>
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