Can GMOs be the answer to the problem of world hunger?
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In 1996 the first World Food Summit set an ambitious target: to halve the figure of 840 million hungry people by 2015. Yet, in 2002 the number of hungry people worldwide was still valued at 800 million.
While food availability increased across the world during the last 30 years, great disparities between North and South emerged. In addition, world population growth is increasing, and is estimated to reach 9 billion in 2050. Knowing that about 80% of this population resides in areas now being developed makes it a challenge to meet its future needs.
While the rural exodus is emptying the countryside of its farmers, it seems vital to increase agricultural yields. Could GM be a solution to the problem of world hunger?
This is certainly one of the arguments of the biotech companies which are facing the skepticism of European consumers. However, this solution is not without controversy, and raises ethical, economic, social and environmental issues, illustrated by the case of Zambia in 2003.
The United States trying to solve the food crisis in Zambia by selling their surplus maize transgenic rejected by European consumers had accused the European Union to hinder free trade and adopt an attitude leading to immoral starving in African countries.
Thus, while 20 years ago, the only available option to reduce hunger in the world was increasing productivity, the idea of sustainable development today requires all to consider a number of social factors and the environment.
The population boom has demanded rapid solutions to meet the food needs and so agricultural biotechnology has developed in the heart of what has been called the "green revolution".
Manufacturing and cultivation of GM herbicide (Bt) insect tolerant, that can grow under conditions of drought and of high salinity have increased phenomenal crop yields.
Tags: importance in increasing agricultural yields; GM as a solution to world hunger; social and environmental issues; food crisis;