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Resources Essay Research Paper RESOURCES READING ASSIGNMENT1a

Resources Essay, Research Paper RESOURCES READING ASSIGNMENT 1a) Advantages of the “green revolution”: -effort to transfer latest advances in agricultural technology-such as new seed hybrids, fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation from developed countries to the developing world

Resources Essay, Research Paper

RESOURCES READING ASSIGNMENT

1a) Advantages of the “green revolution”:

-effort to transfer latest advances in agricultural technology-such as new seed hybrids, fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation from developed countries to the developing world

& so the great Asian famine never happened

-world grain harvests have doubled

Disadvantages:

-might be nearing its peak

-success depends on fresh water & arable land which are now in short supply

-some critics blame it for world poverty; they argue that the new, expensive technologies introduced to the developing world benefited a few wealthy landowners at the expense of poor farmers

-hundreds of millions of people remain undernourished even as global food prices have steadily declined

-it has contributed to the environmental degradation of the developing world through its heavy reliance on toxic pesticides and weed-killing herbicides

b) The “gene revolution”:

-genetically modified crops, which can be made resistant to drought and soil acidity & said to be suited to thrive among the conditions found throughout the developing world

-biotech crops hold the potential to redress some of the environmental damage caused by the Green Revolution by minimizing the use of pesticides and herbicides

-in developing world, biotech advocates see GM crops not only as a way to put food on the table but as a means to help boost economic growth and alleviate poverty

-it is very expensive, one estimate claims the cost of bringing a new GM crop variety to market can range from $30 -$50 million

-the crops being developed are typically not food staples in the developing world such as rice but crops suited for the U.S. and European market such as corn and cotton

c) For developing countries “catch 22″ of gene revolution technology is that the Third World countries that most need to develop GM crops can’t afford the technology, and corporations in the industrialized countries that possess the technology can’t hope to recoup their high research-and-development costs and remain commercially viable if they give away their genetic patents. If biotechnology is to be truly accessible to poor countries, then corporations, countries, development agencies, philanthropic organizations, and research institutions will have to find innovative ways to encourage public-private research while simultaneously protecting international intellectual property rights.

d) The Biotech War:

-US and EU (European Union) engaged in a transatlantic food fight

-EU insists that all genetically modified food organisms (GMOs) be labeled & some want to ban GMO imports entirely

-GMOs haven’t been proven 100% safe and Europeans want the right to restrict potentially harmful imports

-Americans retort that EU desires to shield European farmers from international competition

-biotech industry won a rare victory when European Parliament rejected a proposed law that would have held companies liable for any GMO-caused damage to the environment or public health

-US idea of establishing a “working group” to address diverging views on trade in biotech foods

-Third World countries and EU said no, fearing the group would undermine the forthcoming Biosafety Protocol and other non-trade-related organizations

-in Montreal, more than 130 countries signed the Biosafety Protocol that would regulate trade in GMOs with rules for notification of content and labeling

-in Japan where the govt simultaneously restricts and promotes GM products, regulations will require labels for all incoming shipments of biotech corn and soybeans as of April 2001

e) Worldwide, a coalition of environmentalists, consumer groups, and public health advocates have stirred up a public backlash against biotechnology, in doing so they have scored legislative victories. The EU demands that all GM food be labeled, which makes biotech vegetables unattractive to consumers. Some European supermarkets have removed all GM food from shelves, while major corporations like Gerber are refusing to use GM ingredients. The Department of Agriculture in the US reported that it expects an average 6% decline in the planting of biotech corn, soybeans, and cotton. Seven major biotech companies have committed $50 million for an advertising campaign promoting GM foods. Biotech proponents in developing countries worry that declining profits and growing restrictions on genetic research could stifle the flow of financial and scientific support from industrialized countries. If moratoriums against biotechnology become widespread, developing countries might find themselves unable to export their GM crops abroad.

2a) Genetically modified rice containing beta-carotene is significant to roughly half the world’s population which depends on rice as a staple food. Beta-carotene is a substance necessary to humans for the production of vitamin A. As many as 250 million kids suffer worldwide from vitamin A deficiency, which causes blindness, impairs the immune system, reducing their resistance to diarrhea, and measles.

b) Bio-McCarthyism is vandalism against biotech research facilities and corporate headquarters, protesting, slander and vilification of anybody who sees genetic engineering and green biotechnology as anything but a nail in the coffin of modern society.

c) Liesinger sees “no alternatives” to using biotechnology and genetic engineering to achieve a rise in the yield potential per hectare. Without them, the productivity of small farmers can’t be raised and so their incomes will not rise. Unless the yield potential increases substantially, ecologically fragile lands will be overcropped and poor people will be condemned to work hard and still remain poor.

d) Societal benefits of food security:

-more food for rural families

-agricultural growth creates more income & productive employment in the agricultural sector, which provides majority of jobs in poor countries

-better rural incomes also indirectly help the urban poor, by reducing rural-urban migration and hence reducing competition for workplaces and homes or by reducing the need for urban-rural remittances

-higher production quantities lower food prices-important for poor who can spend from 50-70% of their income on food

e) “Technology transcending” risks of biotechnology:

*growth in the disparity of income & wealth distribution in poor societies

-biotechnology can alleviate poverty but equitable outcomes depend upon the equitable distribution of land and income the development of markets, govt services, and infrastructure

-genetically engineered crops are a land-saving technology and can be important to those who have little or only marginal land

*aggravation of the prosperity gap between the North and South

-gap might increase if developing nations aren’t adequately compensated for their indigenous genetic resources

-private enterprises and research institutes could gain control of the genes of plants native to the developing world, use them to produce superior varieties, and then sell the new varieties back to developing countries at high prices

ex/ Nigerian researchers identified the sweetener thaumatin in indigenous forest berries but no industry was interested in using the fruit as a sweetener. With advent of biotechnology, the gene for thaumatin has been cloned and now being used for production of sweetener in confectionery industry. People whose lands the gene was obtained never received any compensation.

*loss of biodiversity

-diversity diminishes not because farmers grow genetically modified foods, but because the political will to conserve diversity doesn’t always exist

-it is because farmers find new varieties more profitable that the number of food crop varieties had diminished over last 100 years

-varieties that are under pressure of substitution can be preserved from extinction through in vivo strategies (a limited number of farmers grow endangered crop varieties) and in vivo strategies (seeds are kept in cold storage or frozen in nitrogen)

-main battle for slowing down loss of biodiversity is through the preservation of land & water resources

-reduction of biological diversity resulting from the destruction of tropical forests, conversion of native land to agriculture, replacement of wild lands with monocultures, overfishing, and other practices used to feed the growing world population is more significant than the loss of biodiversity from the adoption of genetically modified crop varieties

f) The issue of private sector concentration can be overcome by:

-strengthening public research, its knowledge can be passed on to small farmers at cost or via govt channels-for free

-development assistance should be used to train scientists from developing countries and to assist them in establishing local facilities for biotechnological research

-the direct transfer of technology would be the most effective strategy for fostering plant biotechnology to increase agricultural productivity in the developing world

-there must be more intensive public-private partnerships

-the knowledge and different experience-and the patented intellectual property-at the disposal of the private sector could be passed on via donated transfers or licensing terms to public research institutes in developing countries

3a) According to Altieri the disadvantages of GM crops are:

-GM crops may never become a reality since the world’s rural poor since they will not be able to afford the seeds, which are patented by biotech corporations

-GM crops could devastate already fragile ecosystems by wiping out indigenous species of plants that have thrived for centuries

-loss of biodiversity has implications for food security in developing world: by planting fewer & fewer species of crops farmers may increase the risk of fa since, in the future, those crops may prove vulnerable to changing climatic conditions or unforeseen diseases

-GM crops are already eroding food security in developing world

-seduction of biotechnology has begun to divert public attention and precious resources from more reliable methods of increasing agricultural productivity

b) Response to argument that GM technology will significantly help poor farmers:

-there is no guarantee that GM food will be made available to those who need it most

-even if biotechnology contributes to increased crop harvests, poverty will not necessarily decline

-many poor farmers don’t have access to cash, credit, technical assistance, or markets

-the Green Revolution bypassed these farmers because the planting the new high-yield crops and maintaining them was too expensive

-data show that, in Asia & Latin America, wealthy farmers with larger and better endowed lands gained most from the Green Revolution whereas farmers with little resources gained little

-the Gene Revolution may end up repeating the mistakes of its predecessor

-GM seeds are under corporate control & patent protection therefore very expensive

-many developing countries still lack the infrastructure and low-interest credit necessary to deliver these new seeds to poor farmers, biotechnology will only exacerbate marginalization

-poor farmers don’t fit into the marketing niche of private corporations, which focus on biotechnological innovations for the commercial-agricultural sector of industrial and developing nations, these corporations expect a huge return on their research investment

-private sector often ignores important staple crops such as cassava

-the few impoverished landowners who will have access to biotechnology will become dependent on the annual purchase of GM seeds and have to abide by onerous intellectual property agreements not to plant seeds yielded from a harvest of bioengineered plants

c) GM technology is an “environmental time bomb”:

-the marketing strategy of biotech corporations is to create broad international seeds markets for a single commodity-a practice that tends to foster genetic homogeneity

-history has shown that a huge area planted with a single crop species is highly vulnerable to changing climatic conditions or the emergence of a new, matching strain of pathogen or pest

-in developing world, many native crop species are resistant to pests, adapt well to marginal environments, and allow farmers to cope with varying climates

-the widespread planting of a single crop species leads to a loss of genetic diversity that reduces the options for farmers in the future

-biotech crops pose a threat to biodiversity not only by crowding out indigenous species, but by breeding with them

-transfer of genetic traits from crops to other related species through the spread of pollen and seeds is always a concern

-in the developing world crossbreeding is more likely to occur and with more serious consequences

-worrisome is the possibility that GM crops-endowed with traits such as resistance to viruses, insects, and herbicides- might pass those characteristics to wild relatives, thereby creating “superweeds” that will proliferate in farmers’ fields

-Bt corn which uses a gene derived from the Bacillus thuringiensis bacterium to produce a substance specifically toxic to corn borers may be lethal to other insects

-the Bt toxin can kill important soil organisms, affecting processes such as the breakdown of organic matter, which is essential to soil fertility

d) Much of the food needed in the developing world can be produced by small farmers using “agroecological” technologies, which foster self-reliance and protect the environment. It emphasizes the conservation of vital resources (soil, water, and financial capital), the use of natural inputs (like organic fertilizers) instead of synthetic toxic products, the diversification of crops, and social processes that emphasize community participation and empowerment. Such approaches are being spread by farmers’ groups and nongovernmental organizations throughout the developing world. Increasing the agricultural productivity of small landowners not only expands food supply but reduces poverty among the people who are denied the benefits of the “new and improved” agricultural technologies periodically introduced to the developing world.

CONCLUDING QUESTION:

Altieri presents the most convincing argument. He states that:

-GM crops are expensive and may not become a reality to the world’s poor farmers

-GM crops could damage ecosystems by wiping out indigenous species of plants

-there is a loss of biodiversity

-the seduction of biotechnology is diverting attention and resources from more reliable methods of increasing agricultural productivity

-there is no guarantee that GM technology will be made available to those who need it most (poor farmers in developing countries)

-the Gene Revolution may repeat the mistakes of its predecessor, the Green Revolution

-private sector which is in control of the GM seeds ignores staple crops such as cassava

-history has shown that a huge area planted with a single crop species is highly vulnerable to changing climatic conditions or the emergence of a new, matching strain of pathogen or pest

-biotech crops pose a threat to biodiversity not only by crowding out indigenous species, but by breeding with them

-in the developing world crossbreeding is more likely to occur and with more serious consequences

-worrisome is the possibility that GM crops-endowed with traits such as resistance to viruses, insects, and herbicides- might pass those characteristics to wild relatives, thereby creating “superweeds” that will proliferate in farmers’ fields

-”agroecological” technologies, which foster self-reliance and protect the environment are a way to increase agricultural productivity

- it emphasizes the conservation of vital resources (soil, water, and financial capital), the use of natural inputs (like organic fertilizers) instead of synthetic toxic products, the diversification of crops, and social processes that emphasize community participation and empowerment

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