Global Advanced Research Journal of Biotechnology (GARJB)
October 2012 Vol. 1(3), pp 033-039
Copyright © 2012 Global Advanced Research Journals
The Role of Biotechnology in Solving Global Food Crisis
Agronomy Department, Taraba State University, Jalingo, PMB 1167
Accepted 03 September, 2012
Biotechnology is the formation of new heritable materials by insertion of nucleic acid molecules produced outside a cell by vector systems. The underlying principles involve dissection of desirable characters using restriction enzymes that protect host DNA by introducing methyl groups at recognition sites. These enzymes produce sticky ends that allow for ligation using phosphodiester bonds, and cloning vehicles (replicons) with high gene dosage allowing for modification in biotechnology. This second generation biotechnology premise give speed and precision, yet only compliments the traditional breeding programs, by re-invigorating life expectancy, productivity, growth in food and agricultural sustainability. USA (68%) Argentina (23%) Canada (7%) China (1%) and South Africa (1%) are fore runners in commercial GM –food production. Most modified crops are corn and soy bean (84%) rap seed (canola) cotton and potatoes (18%), reasons for modification include herbicide tolerance (74%), pest and disease resistance (19%) and biofortification (7%), between 109-120 million acres of land are used for cultivation of GM foods. As the world population quadruples, the only promising tool against global hunger is biotechnology. Nevertheless, are GM foods safe for us? Several criticism advanced are classed as environmental hazards, human health risks, economical and ethical reasons. Most regulatory agencies stance are GM foods are substantially safe, yet insist on mandatory labeling as ‘GRAS’ with 0% contamination, while importing countries have the right to accept or reject GM foods. We are optimistic that modified food aid will deal with the threatening starvation in sub-Saharan Africa with rampant civil unrest, political corruption and failed agricultural programmes. The only challenges are lack of infrastructures for storage, transportation, insecurity of aid workers and non acceptance. It would be unwise to believe that food insecurity can be eliminated without Agricultural biotechnology.
Keywords: Second generation biotechnology; genetically modified food; Global hunger and food insecurity; World Food Aid Programmes.