Biotechnology proponents who are pushing for more countries to accept GM crop cultivation have been presenting it as a means to fight world hunger. In fact, when looking at it more extensively, genetic modification truly may have the means to help fight off world hunger that has been a perennial problem in many of the poorest nations in the world. Developing better yielding crops through genetic modification can have a great impact on the fight to lessen world hunger. But is it really the focus of most biotech companies today?
An answer to world hunger- that can be an attractive selling point for biotech companies to use in order to help spread the acceptance of the cultivating GM crops in other countries. But is it really what is happening in the current GM cultivation environment? In order to have a better understanding if GM crops really are being used to help fight off world hunger, let us take a look closely at its most popular product today- GM soy.
Currently, GM soy cultivation stands as the most widely planted GM crop in the world today, covering over 58.6 million hectares of global land area used for it. The GM soy crop that is widely used by farmers today is the Roundup Ready soy variety which is produced commercially by biotech giant Monsanto. Its Roundup Ready soy was developed to resist the effects of the herbicide Roundup, also being produced by Monsanto.
Soya production primarily is not being cultivated to provide food for the world’s hungry population. Most of it is harvested in order to feed cattle in countries such as the United States, Western Europe and in China. The cattle are then processed to become beef that usually do not land on the table of the hungry of poorer nations. What remains of the soy not earmarked as feed is put to use in industries that manufacture soap, ink or glue. Some of this also becomes as soy additives that find their way into the manufacture of a number of processed foods such as bread and chocolate. Another area seen to gain an increased use for GM soy is in the field of alternative fuel where it is used to process biodiesel.
By looking at it more closely, it seems that the aim of cultivating GM crops such as GM soy is nowhere near trying to solve world hunger. It is instead being developed in order to provide an abundant source of raw materials used for many industries in the developed countries. Genetic modification in this aspect cannot be seen as a probable solution to world hunger, at least not in its current situation. True, GM crop cultivation may help provide better yields and economic returns for many farmers (although there is also an ongoing debate on this), its objective to solve world hunger is not yet clearly obvious at this point in time. This may be the reason why some opponents think of it as a myth.