Genetics and Food Security

There is a food crisis sneaking up on us right now. A lot of them, actually. A lot of little one, some big ones. There are always places in the world where food has become scarce for at time, and people starve or move. You’ve heard of the “”Syrian refugee crisis,” and the often extreme reactions to it in Europe and among some in the US. That started out as a food crisis, brought on by human pollution induced global warming in an already arid agricultural zone.

Nearly similar levels of climate change related pressure on agricultural systems elsewhere has led to very different outcomes, sometimes more adaptive outcomes that won’t (at least for now) lead to major geopolitical catastrophes as we have now in the Levant and elsewhere in West Asia. What’s the difference? The difference is how agriculture is done.

Are GMOs a solution? Are GMOs safe, and can the produce a small or medium size revolution in crop productivity? What about upgrading traditional agriculture to “industrial agriculture”?

And speaking of GMOs, what is the latest in GMO research? How should GMOs be regulated, by the method they are produced, or by the novel or altered traits they have? How do we communicate about GMO research and GMO crops? What about labeling?

These and many other questions are addressed ad Mike Haubrich, me, and Anastasia Bodnar talk about “Genetics and Food Security” on the latest installment of the Ikonokast Podcast. GO HERE to listen to the podcast. Also, if you go there, you can see a picture of Anastasia holding her latest GMO product, a corn plant that can see and talk!

Also, Iknokast has a Facebook Group. Please click here to go and joint it!

And, if you have not yet listened to our first podcast, with author and science advocate Shawn Otto, click here to catch up!

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6 thoughts on “Genetics and Food Security

  1. Were those who shot them trying to evade famine themselves?

    com·pe·ti·tion
    ?kämp??tiSH(?)n/
    noun
    Sociology. Rivalry between two or more persons or groups for an object desired in common, usually resulting in a victor and a loser but not necessarily involving the destruction of the latter.

    Funny thing about having too many people around… They tend to want to eat. Eat the food you’re wanting to eat, that is.

    Which is a problem when the climate is reducing the amount of food that’s being produced.

    This tends to result in… Wait for it… Competition for food. Which can, and sometimes does, result in one group driving out and… Wait for it… shooting members of the other group.

  2. I’m all in favor of GMOs, however:

    1) We need to preserve genetic diversity of staple crops to avoid the well known risks of monoculture (adapted pests, systems fragility, etc.). This can probably be done within the GMO paradigm.

    2) Industrial agriculture cannot become an excuse for poor sanitation at any point in the food supply, as it has done in the USA such as with hog farming. Sanitation + vaccination = civilization, and the reverse is also true;-)

    3) It’s well known that organisms multiply up to the limit of their food supply. This is true for the vast majority of species including humans. Therefore any effort to expand the food supply must necessarily be accompanied by efforts to reduce human population to a sustainable level and keep it there. The biggest breakthrough we need in this area is a reliable male birth control pill.

    4) Human birth rate comes down to a sustainable number voluntarily, when three conditions are met:
    a) Female equality.
    b) Basic economic security.
    c) Availability of birth control.
    These conditions have to be enforced worldwide such as via international trade agreements. We have no choice in this matter. The longer we wait, the fewer the options remain, and those that remain become increasingly ugly.

    5) Failure to address population issues relative to food supply will only result in another wave of failure and resumption of hunger and the conflict it engenders. If the food supply has been expanded using high-tech methods, a resumption of hunger will also tend to produce an increased level of cynicism about science and technology: exactly what the world does not need when it comes to dealing with the other consequences of climate change.

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