I believe that in the Innovation series, I pooled together enough literature to demonstrate valid concern regarding future food and water security. The world is changing and this will cause increasing stress on already questionable agricultural and water management practices.
It is refreshing however, when one comes by others making similar calls, but also offering practical solutions to the problem. Here, I refer to a report by Jonathan Jones, on the BBC website, titled, Fussy Eaters – what’s wrong with GM food?
In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, “You don’t make friends with salad!”
In my case, it would be GM salad. Since I began this blog, I’ve had a wide range of people follow my posts and tweets. Some people have found my work and followed it because of my agricultural/environmental focus. As always, I endeavour to return the favour and look over their work and tweets. In a few cases, this has led me to anti-GM posts which I ultimately comment on… soon to find that I have one less follower…
The fact of the matter remains that we have been genetically modifying food (both plant and animal) since we became farmers. GM must be adopted as one of a number of measures that increase food security and certainly something that must be provided, along with improved agricultural practices to poorer communities under various support methods, for the benefit of all of our species. Why do I believe this? Jonathan covers it pretty well under the subheading of “Growing Demand”, but in short; how selective breeding allowed for food supplies to grow fatter than would be practical in nature, GM allows for specific efficiencie of water and nutrient uptake, resistance to disease and pests and quality of food supply – without trial and error on generational time spans. There is little to no evidence that GM causes harm (although I’m often referred to media reports that beg to differ and I’m not one to be swayed by media – time and time again they have been proven to be wrong, bias and sensationalists). The worst I’ve heard was nut allergies occurring as a result of nut proteins in GM grain supplies (although that was word of mouth). This seems pretty obvious and does nothing to argue why we shouldn’t genetically modify food.
Jonathan and I differ on one minor point regarding omega 3. The relative importance of omega 3 has probably been inflated, which was excellently explained by Geoff Russell, Trawling for snake oil. However, this is a problem of a different industry and something I’ll probably discuss in the near future when I again focus on the horrible condition of our oceans.
As I mentioned above, GM is only one of a number of ways in which agricultural practises much change to ensure food security. Another that I’ve focused on before is the ever increasing patches of monoculture. Henry makes some excellent points regarding monoculture, Nature avoids monoculture like the plague (we should too). A couple months ago, I wrote about a few case studies in a book I was reading at the time. It seems clear to me that more practical farming (and greater yield to effort/expense) comes from employing greater ecological services – by encouraging greater biodiversity on the plot, thus agriculture that suits the environment. The days of a hunger strike to protest against sustainability are gone. The ego of our control over nature has been shattered – Earth balances the books regardless of our alternate points of view.
With increasingly efficient GM crop, more appropriate crop selection and rotational practices to suit the particular landscape, we are likely to obtain greater yields with less damage to the land (ie. fertiliser pollution, excessive water needs/run off, top soil loss, biodiversity loss etc). As climate change increases, we will need ever greater understanding of the various geo-physical influences and increasing knowledge sharing between primary producers and academic groups to better develop and adapt. We cannot allow business-as-usual to continue.