Food Security: GMOs, Changing the Future of Farming.

By: Parker Kirwin

A big problem in Sub-Saharan Africa is food security. Over 60 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are malnourished and are facing starvation 1. This is a result of the millions of acres of unused land in Sub-Saharan Africa. These acres go unused because the farmers don’t have resources to properly use them. These include better seeds, plants with higher yields, and fertilizers.

Genetically modified organisms, or as most people know them GMOs, play a huge role in how the farming industry works today. Genetic modification is a process where genes from an outside source are implanted into another organism’s genes 2. They were first introduced into our food products in the 1990’s, and now are in a great majority of our food products.

One of the biggest factors in farming is the yield of the crop. Because of the genes implanted into them, GMOs have been proven to have a higher average yield. The average yield of corn in the U.S. has increased by 37% since 1996 3. The average yield of soybeans has also gone up; increasing by 21% since 1994.

Part of the reason that the yield of plants in Sub-Saharan Africa is low is because of the amount of nitrogen in the soil. It is so low that their yield is only 20-40% of the United States yield 4. In order to help this without having farmers spray so much nitrogen fertilizer that it hurts the environment, is to use nitrogen fixing plants. With the nitrogen fixing plants the ground will be better fit to grow the crops, resulting in the higher yield.

Another major factor that affects how well their crops grow is the ineffective use of part of the land. Obviously this cannot be changed fully, but it can be helped with the use of GMOs. With new plants that have pesticides implanted into their genes, the amount of effort put into farming is decreased 5. Along with making their farming easier, GMOs with pesticides infused into them can make the crops healthier.

A group of women sort through their harvested crops.

Although food insecurity in Sub-Saharan africa is a huge problem, with the help of GMOs it could soon be on the decline. Once the commercialization of GMOs is popularized, the higher yield in crop will help. Along with decrease in labor needed to tend the crops. As well as the better economic state most of these small farmers could find themselves in. All of these factors show how GMOs would help with Sub-Saharan food insecurity.

References

1.Africa’s Sub-Saharan Countries Face Famine (2016, May 22). Develop Africa. Retrieved from https://www.developafrica.org

2.GMO Education (n.d.). Institute For Responsible Technology. Retrieved from http://responsibletechnology.org

3.Hettinger J. (2017, February 27). From yield protection to yield boosting: GMO crops of the future. Investigate Midwest. Retrieved from http://investigatemidwest.org

4.Hirschberger C. (2017, April 5). Bioengineering Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria and Staple Crops:

5.How Will GMOs Impact Our Future?(2018, February 18). West Shore Series. Panel Discussion

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