Our climate is changing, our world is more populated every year, and there’s growing talk of global food insecurity. With science technology, it seems anything and everything is possible. Even for our food future? Maybe biotech foods can help.
Changing Climate = pests, disease, weather
A changing climate brings new challenges to farmers. Where biotech works is through breeding a better potato that’s resistant to blight in Ireland, corn that can better withstand water shortages, or growing drought resistant soybeans that get genetic help from drought-friendly sunflowers.
Deep Dive: a multi-scientist authored paper on Genetically Modified Food: Its uses, Future Prospects and Safety Assessments was published in Science Alert. A longer read, but it includes a look to the future with biotech foods.
Feed A Growing Population (with finite resources)
Our planet is expected to have more than nine billion people living on it by 2050. Every year it’s increasingly difficult to feed us; we’re struggling around the world and in our own communities. Biofortified crops can mean more nutrients for people in areas where growing food can already be a challenge.
Deep Dive: in a publication from the US National Library of Medicine’s National Institute of Health, the authors write extensively on Genetically Modified Crops and Food Security.
Tick Tock, Tick Tock
It takes less time (and is more accurate) to genetically adapt a crop than doing so without using biotech. That potato fighting blight in Ireland? To create a new variety through conventional breeding could take close to 15 years, when it’s less than six months with biotech.
Deep Dive: scientific, peer-reviewer-based PLOS | ONE published a paper that provides A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops, where the authors amassed and analyzed more data than any of us layfolk would normally see in several lifetimes.
Organic + Biotech = a world of possibilities
Biotech can build disease resistant crops and reduce the need for pesticides. Plants grow, reproduce, make food, and defend themselves all while standing completely still. That’s a tall order. What if something in the soil could be part of its natural defense system?
Biotech and organics (the method of farming) need not be mutually exclusive and can work together. Deep Dive: Harvard published a paper on Insecticidal Plants: the Tech and Safety of GM Bt Crops.
Lower Costs = more sustainable farmers
Droughts are now more common in our food belts, like California, agricultural areas of Mexico (for more than 20 years), and New Mexico. Biotech crops can see higher yields while using less natural resources, and agriculture is heavily dependent on water.
We increasingly expect to get more for less, from discount outlet stores to prices at our neighborhood grocer. More for less? That promise can be realized, according to farmers growing biotech crops.
“GMO farming actually delivers on that promise – helping us grow an average of 22 percent more food on the same amount of land, and saving trees and wildlife from being converted to farmland.” (source)
Reduce Food Waste
Okay, here’s where we might toot our own horn just a little. When OSF founder and president Neal Carter saw that up to 40% of apples are wasted, he wanted to make a change from the source. That’s how nonbrowning Arctic® apples were born.
With our apples we’re using biotech to help the future of food, if only in one small way.
More Where This Came From
We embedded a few links to sources throughout this article, including some of the more science-y publications if you enjoy that kind of thing. Like really science-y. Impress your family and friends at dinner parties kind of science-y.