Feeding the World: A Look at Biotechnology and World Hunger(2)

Mar 03, 2004

The role of agricultural biotechnology in addressing world hunger has been an important part of the global debate about genetically modified (GM) crops since they were introduced in the mid-1990s. Some believe that biotech crops are an important part of the solution to world hunger while others take the position that biotech crops will have little impact.

To provide a better understanding of these respective points of view, the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology has released an issue brief which summarizes the arguments made on both sides of the debate. The brief, titled “Feeding the World: A Look at Biotechnology and World Hunger”, examines both the potential for agricultural biotechnology to boost food production and quality for poor farmers in developing countries as well as some of the possible concerns about and limitations of agricultural biotechnology.

While not comprehensive review of all pertinent factors contributing to the problem of global hunger, the brief illuminates key policy issues relevant to the discussion. The new issue brief provides an overview of:

  • The constraints to further increases in food production in developing nations.
  • The status of GM crops worldwide and the role of conventional breeding in international food development.
  • The potential benefits of genetic engineering to increase food production; reduce crop losses from disease, insects and drought; and improve the nutritional content of traditional foods.
  • The unique perspective developing countries have on the potential environmental and food safety risks of GM crops.
  • The risk management and socioeconomic issues that GM crops present for developing countries.

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