Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are organisms that have had changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. One of the common use of GMO is to produce genetically modified foods, defined as a “transgenic organism.” This is an organism whose genetic makeup has been altered by the addition of genetic material from an unrelated organism.
Thanks to biotechnology and to DNA recombination, a gen can be transferred from one organism to another one in order to give it one particularity that it does not own. As well, the time of a conventional breeding to eliminate undesirable genes has been reduced. This way, transgenic plants can survive to plagues, herbicides or droughts.
Initially, transgenic food revolutionised the alimentation industry and it was believed that they could be a tool to finish with famine around the world. Nonetheless, it never happened.
Industrial agriculture is defined as “the practice of farming with artificial fertilisers and agrochemicals, such as herbicides, fungicides and pesticides”. (Rees, 2006, pp. 3). Industrial agriculture was introduced to the developing countries in the 1960s, with the ostensible aim of increasing food production. This was known as the Green Revolution. Then, yields did increase for a while, but far from helping the poor, wealth and land were concentrated into the hands of wealthier farmers, who could afford the expensive inputs and drove thousands of subsistence farmers into debt or off the land.
Agriculture was transformed from subsistence farming into agribusiness, so opening it up to agrocorporations and their products. Then, the hunger that the Green Revolution was meant to eradicate has remained stubbornly intransigent, with the number facing hunger and malnutrition worldwide remaining at 800 million. (Rees, 2006, pp. 11).
As investigation and agricultural development are nowadays basically supported by invest from the private sector, I think that scientific companies need to establish concessional prices in the countries with low-income countries so those poor farmers can also benefit from new GM products. As well, maybe big companies should share their knowledge with public institutions of investigation and create societies in order to work in crops and agricultural problems that nowadays have not a high interest for the main transnational markets.
News articles referenced
REES, A. (2006). A Last Word. In Genetically Modified Food: A Short Guide For the Confused (pp. 3-20). Pluto Books. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt18fs73x.15
Wohlers, A. (2010). Regulating genetically modified food: Policy trajectories, political culture, and risk perceptions in the U.S., Canada, and EU. Politics and the Life Sciences, 29(2), (pp. 17-39). Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41417929