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Biotechnology involves genetic modifications a selective gene transfer between organisms. Pervaded by much fear, confusion, uncertainty, and optimism, the many arguments surrounding genetically modified foods engage countless concerned parties. Biotechnology proponents point to its ability to reduce the use of fertilizers, increasing yields, reducing the demand for herbicides and pesticides and hence their impact to the environment, and add nutritional content. Opponents and skeptics, conversely consider the food as highly investigative, an object of releasing new and mutant genetic materials to the environment, producer that are deficient of their customers’ concerns regarding safer foods and rapid commercialization of commodities that have unpredictable long term effect according Gregory(1999).
Genetically modified food is will decrease food starvation in the less economically developed countries and ultimately in the whole world. This is because of the advantages that genetically modified foods come along with their introduction. The associate merits will increase food production therefore alleviating starvation.
Gene transfer poses the greatest risk to the environment as transgenic organisms bears unpredictable outcomes. There is fear of their transformations from farming land into wild field and where they can become a nuisance to the environment. There are chances of cross pollination of transgenic plants and the wild plants resulting in to a supper weed that are destructive and invasive to the environment. These risks are wide ranging and the reason skeptic s support the intergovernmental regulation of transgenic organisms more crops. Biotech companies have high profitability range though development and testing of transgenic organism is commercially risky and very expensive leave alone the political controversies that always surrounds the industry. If good transgenic materials are successfully developed, their dissemination is another challenge that farmers and experts faces. It demands investment of capital on equipment, seeds, expertise in the latest skills and methods and the transition period in the delicate environment (Gerald, 1999).
Casper and Landsmann (1992) show that the no till technique that involves wide spread elimination on ploughing is a conservation land tillage that is dependent on genetically modified crops. Agriculture is a significant factor that shapes up the surrounding. Monoculture farming makes crops develop poor habits and become vulnerable to disaster and diseases. Farming without fertilizers depletes and ultimately exhaust soil nutrients although it runs off and pollutes the environment especially water. Pesticides can be harmful to human beings and can kill beneficial soil micro organisms. Irrigation usually results to remnants of trace element s in the soils whose accumulations can result to soil poisonings.
The trade off is essential for instance organic agriculture does not utilize inorganic fertilizers which can result to adverse pollution to the environment and food contaminations. Convectional farmers use organic manures with less herbicide though they practice convectional tillage that involves much of ploughing thereby ensuing environmental complications. Extensive form of agriculture uses less chemical though it utilizes large tract of land increasing environmental footprints. With the growth of human population it will require food supply to at least double.
Biotechnology has the greatest potential of doing the environment better though they are less appreciated widely. Example is the conservation tillage which works well with the transgenic crops. Salt tolerant crops can reverse crippled or wounded land back into production. Biotechnology has enormous potential gains among them is the increased arable land productivity which reduces the population pressure on the conserved forests which has huge species diversity.
Destruction of habitat is still a serious environmental crisis and the most serious leading to loss of biodiversity. This is the reason feeding the increasing population poses the greatest challenge with reduced conversion of the globe’s prime habitat into farming fields. Hence majority of agronom9ists are in agreement that there has to be an improvement for the traditional breeding, herbicides, fertilizers, and green revolutions. Biotechnology carries much more promise to address the above issue s like doubling of the quantity of food production. Producing the additional food to feed the increasing billion of people cannot be supported by conventional technology so is the amount of fertilizer, pesticide and other polluting inorganic chemicals would be relatively enormous. In properly initiated, communicated, and utilized, genetically modified crops might be the best option that the planet has to adopt.
By application of modern biotechnological techniques, genes can be transferred to a more developed crop variety to convey a new character that would increase its productivity. However, while increases in crop production are the clearest applications of modern biotechnology in agronomy, it is also the hardest option. Present genetic engineering strategies work best for effects that are under control by one gene. Loads of the genetic attributes associated with productivity are controlled by many genes, each of which has a baseline effect on the total yield.
Crops that contain genes that aid them to withstand both abiotic and biotic stresses can be genetically be developed. Salinity and drought are the major limiting factors to the growth of plants. Extensive studies are continuous to establish crops that can cope with these extremities in the hope of transferring the genes to desirable crop populations. One of the major breakthroughs is the discovery of plant gene At-DBF2, from Arabidopsis thaliana which when inserted in tomatoes it induces the attribute of hardiness, where the tomato has the ability to withstand environmental stresses like drought, heart and cold, and salt far more than the ordinary tomato calls. If these trials are successful, genetic engineering can help in the development of crops that are environmental stress resistant thereby increasing food production (Alstad and Andow, 1995).
Nutritional qualities of protein containing crops can be increased through modification. Protein in cereals and legumes can be transformed to produce amino acids required by human beings for a complete diet. A great example is the Golden rice by Professors Peter Beyer and Ingo Potrykus.
Biotechnology can be applied in the slowing fruit spoilage allowing its transportation to the ultimate consumer with an economical shelf life. This can result to expansion of the market for farm commodities especially the export market hence promoting agricultural development. Million of tons of wheat is used in the baking of bread annually with the addition of, maltogenic amylase, enzyme the bread stays fresher and lighter for longer saving millions of tons from wastage.
It is evident that biotechnology is the solution to the planet’s food shortage in the coming decades. Conventional technology require extensive tract of land which the increasing population poses a great competition torn between environmental conservation and livelihood sustenance. With the adoption of genetically modified crops, it will be killing two birds with one stone; attainment of environmental stability while at the same time producing enough to feed the ever rising population.