Sustainable Food: A Recipe for Food Security and Environmental Protection?

08.11.2013

Science for Environment Policy

Published November 2013

GM crops are widely grown in countries, such as the US, Argentina, Brazil, India and Canada, but they are largely absent in Europe and Africa (except South Africa). Supporters of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) argue that, in certain countries, the use of GMOs can play a very real part in helping to feed the planet (Clay, 2011). For example, a study by Voesenek & Bailey-Serres (2009) identified the genes responsible for rice survival in flood waters. Genetic modification may make it possible to remodel the architecture of plants with radical effects on carbon capture and mineral uptake. It may even be possible to convert conventional annual production systems to those based on perennial types, thus improving soil quality energy efficiency (Glover et al., 2012). The reproductive biology of plants could also be modified, with major effects on the availability and production of seeds. These major challenges will most likely require a combination of both GM and conventional breeding techniques (The Royal Society, 2009).

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