In reading this chapter you will:
learn about the growing population, the shortage of land and the prospect of a world food crisis;
learn about the interaction of food and energy security;
reflect on the means by which a food crisis might be averted;
consider the pros and cons of using GM technology to alleviate a food crisis;
consider the importance of politics, the media and the public perception of a technology.
We have already looked at genetic engineering in the context of human enhancement. In this chapter we shall look at the same technology in the context of our attempts to secure, for everyone in the world, food and energy security by the genetic modifica- tion of plants and animals.
Genetic modification, food and energy security
Many people believe that it is only by using the technology of genetic modification that the global community will be able to solve the current food crisis.
‘Food crisis? What food crisis?’ you might say, as you butter another slice of toast. If you live in the west you might be forgiven for not realising there is a food crisis, for thinking, indeed, that the only food crisis around is the obesity crisis.
You’ll know, of course, that large parts of the world are starving: news reports on famine in Africa will have been the wallpaper of your childhood television viewing. The starvation continues. But the current food crisis is different. It is a matter (in part) of the price of food being so high that many simply can’t afford it.