Will Biotechnology end world hunger?


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The World Food Programme of the United Nations estimates that 1.02 billion people do not consume enough food daily to maintain good health. More dangerous to global health than illness and conflict, according to the UN  is hunger. Could this issue be solved by biotechnology?

Answering this question is challenging. Theoretically, agricultural biotechnology may be able to produce sufficient amounts of wholesome food to end world hunger. But it might not work in real life.

The goal of agricultural biotechnology is to alter crops genetically. It consists of a number of disciplines and tools. Genes from one organism are inserted into the cells of a target crop by scientists. The target crop will develop the specific trait for which the gene is responsible if everything goes according to plan.Traits of an organism are determined by genes. Some organisms possess characteristics that would be useful to others. A particular strain of bacteria, for instance, might be naturally resistant to cold temperatures. Researchers may be able to introduce the gene into another organism, like a particular variety of corn, if they can locate the gene that gives the bacterium this ability. The corn plant may then acquire a tolerance to the cold. As a result, farmers could grow this crop in more climates than they could with the original strain.

The application of agricultural biotechnology may also provide crops with additional benefits. In addition to creating plants that can thrive in a variety of conditions, scientists can also raise the yield and nutritional value of a crop. It seems as though scientists are creating super crops with the best characteristics found in nature. Similar processes occur in nature, though they are much slower, usually limited to members of the same species, and less precise.

Agricultural biotechnology uses precise procedures, but the process is lengthy. Experiments are not always successful. Additionally, some governments—including the federal government in the United States—impose strict limitations and regulations on agricultural biotechnology-derived crops. Scientists must demonstrate that their processes are reliable and safe before genetically modified food can hit the market.

Global hunger and food insecurity

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In the majority of the developing world, there is a persistent problem with global hunger and food insecurity. Genetic modification (GM) of crops demands special consideration among the many potential biotechnologies that are available and the various applications they can be used for. Genetically modified crops, which contain genes from various species, may help to alleviate the world’s food shortages. There are still concerns about the advantages of GM crops, despite the initial excitement surrounding their use and the promise of larger and better harvests for farmers. Additionally, the creation of “super plants” as a potential solution to ending world hunger may not be well received by the general public.

Regarding establishing food security in developing nations, the environmental impact of GM crops is crucial. Genetically modified crops run the risk of not germinating, killing organisms that are beneficial to plants but aren’t pests, reducing soil fertility, and possibly passing on insecticidal or virus-resistant traits to the crop’s wild relatives.

A portion of the scientific community frequently makes the argument that export revenue from increased agricultural yields can aid in lowering food insecurity and hunger in developing nations. However, there are numerous problems and difficulties that call into question the viability of this suggestion. Several crop varieties that were specifically developed through biotechnology can increase yields, but biotechnology cannot end world hunger on its own.

However, biotechnology has the potential to benefit a wide range of agricultural applications, including managing livestock, storing agricultural products, and maintaining current crop yields while using fewer pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. The real test is whether or not we have the intelligence to capitalize on biotechnological advances. But what exactly are these remedies?

In addition to providing a more effective alternative to synthetic food, biotechnology also advances traditional plant breeding techniques. It offers an exciting and environmentally responsible way to satisfy consumer demand for sustainable agriculture when combined with other advanced agricultural technologies. More Green Revolutions might materialize once the advantages of GM crops are realized by small and marginal farmers.

Combating Malnutrition and Hunger

In medicine, malnutrition is the equivalent of hunger. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s most recent estimate indicates that 854 million people worldwide are undernourished. This represents 12.6% of the world’s 6.6 billion inhabitants. Children are the most obvious victims of undernourishment among the 854 million people who live in developing nations. Every illness, including measles and malaria, is made worse by undernutrition.

We can see how biotechnology can help fight world hunger and malnutrition by looking at one example.

Golden Rice’
A lack of vitamin A affects about 140 million low-income children worldwide, primarily in South-East Asia and Africa. This circumstance has intensified into a public health issue. According to the World Health Organization, between 250,000 and 500,000 children who are vitamin A deficient go blind every year, with half of them passing away within a year of losing their sight. Three new genes—two from the daffodil and one from a bacterium—help the Golden Rice developed by scientists in Germany and Switzerland produce provitamin A. This rice is accessible as a potential option for mass distribution, in part because biotechnology companies waived their patent rights. There are hundreds of new biotech products, of which this is just one among the hundreds of new biotech products, which points to the contributions of biotechnology to society.

Inventive property and food security

There are issues with a technological environment that is largely governed by the private sector and characterized by patent protection. Patents give powerful private companies significant control over plant genes, which has concerning ramifications. Farmers’ income and food security are impacted if they must buy seeds during each sowing season. The so-called “Terminator” or seed-sterilization technology, which is genetically engineered to “switch off” a plant’s ability to germinate twice, has been rejected for commercialization by biotech firms like Monsanto and AstraZeneca, but the sector as a whole holds at least three dozen patents that regulate either seed germination or crucial plant germination processes.

In addition to hindering agricultural research in developing countries, this privatization of a plant’s genetic resources may ultimately endanger the livelihoods of the majority of small farmers in Africa, Latin America, and Asia, who heavily rely on seed saved from one crop to sow in the following.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) over biotechnological goods or the processes used to make them may have a negative effect in developing nations. It is now impossible to use any aspect of biotechnology for improving important crop species without infringing on a patent somewhere along the line because IPRs have been held not only by private companies but also by some public organizations. It has not always been possible to distinguish between the business interests involved and the prospects for biotechnology because of IPRs. One significant effect of IPR in agricultural biotechnology is that many developing nations that have not yet made biotechnology investments may never be able to catch up.


Thorough research must serve as the foundation for wise decisions. Scientists in the field of biotechnology are frequently highly specialized and technique-focused; handling the complex problem of hunger and food security in developing nations may require additional expertise.

The potential benefits of biotechnology for the developing world are enormous. The improvement of food security, the reduction of poverty, and environmental preservation will all directly benefit from the use of high-yielding, disease- and pest-resistant crops. Hopefully, GM crops will yield more on less land.

This could boost global productivity, provide a means of self-sufficiency for developing nations, and lessen hunger throughout the world. Of the 13.3 million global “biotech crop farmers” are 90% from developing nations. India is the fourth country with 7.6 million hectares among the 14 “mega-biotech crop” nations. For instance, 7.6 million hectares of Bt or Bacillus thuringiensis cotton, which defends itself against insects without the need for external pesticide, are being planted by five million farmers in India. Because of the 31% higher yield, 39% lower insecticide use, and higher profits of $250 per hectare, the switch to Bt cotton has been made possible.

Additionally, it is now possible to extract up to 90% more oil from plant sources using biotechnological methods. As global hydrocarbon reserves are depleted, it is likely that plant oils like biodiesel will someday compete with oil, coal, and gas in terms of quality and price.

Hurdles in solving hunger crises

Imagine that researchers have created farming methods and crops that can produce enough food to feed the entire world. What other issues prevent the world from being free of hunger?

Commercialism is one obstacle to overcome. Companies creating agricultural biotechnology methods may not always be acting benevolently. Some businesses look to patent particular genes. That implies that whoever wants to use that gene must obtain a license from the business that owns the patent. This quickly becomes pricey and complicated.

Another issue is that the businesses making biotechnology tools may not always be in the nations that stand to gain the most from the technology. It would take a transfer of technological know-how and resources from one country to another for biotechnology to benefit these nations. It’s not a typical business practice, though some organizations might share knowledge in an effort to aid other nations.

The majority of agricultural biotechnology efforts to date have been directed toward large-scale commercial farming. The subsistence farmers who would gain access to this technology are ignored in that kind of focus. Though they are the exception rather than the rule, some nonprofit organizations are looking into ways to use agricultural biotechnology for subsistence farmers on a small scale.

Agricultural biotechnology encounters numerous challenges politically as well. Some people are concerned about how some plants are being genetically altered by scientists. Many arguments are used by those who oppose agricultural biotechnology, including the concern that foods produced in this manner are safe. Agriculture biotechnology proponents point out that crops go through rigorous testing to ensure they are safe to eat before anyone eats genetically modified food.

Farmers are not required to label their products in the United States if they contain genetically modified ingredients. However, there are stricter regulations in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe. Even if we create the tools that would enable us to produce enough food to feed the world, concerns about potential health risks or environmental effects might prevent the technology or food from spreading.

Final Reflections


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Food is not in short supply; it is actually abundant. There are enough grains and other foods produced worldwide to feed everyone for at least 4.3 pounds each day. The real cause of hunger in the world is poverty, which frequently has the greatest impact on women because they are many families’ nutritional gatekeepers.

According to economists, finding a political solution to the hunger problem is necessary for addition to finding agrotechnical ones. They argue that decision-makers should consider the entire body of research that demonstrates that solutions to end hunger are not technological in nature, but rather rooted in fundamental socio-economic realities, rather than viewing biotechnology as a still-unproven and non-existent breakthrough. However, there is no technology that can overcome the immediate political and social forces that keep people in poverty and in need of food. This is not to say that technology, including biotechnology, does not contribute to reducing, for example, malnutrition. The vast majority of the money invested in the global biotechnology industry has gone toward a small number of products with established First World markets, products that have little to do with the needs of the world’s hungry.

Applications of biotechnology can significantly reduce the issue of global hunger. Green is the color of fertility, agricultural biotechnology, self-respect, and general well-being. My opinion is that modern biotech discoveries and resources should be pragmatically considered by policymakers as a key tool for addressing the issue of world hunger.

The UN Chronicle is not a legally binding document. It is an honor to host senior United Nations officials as well as eminent speakers from outside the UN system whose opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the UN. Similarly, the lines and names depicted, as well as the designations used, in maps or articles do not automatically imply United Nations approval or acceptance.