Feeding A World of 7 Billion..

 

 

 

By posting recipes such as multigrain pilaf and vegan cabbage rolls, GreenNBrown has demonstrated a commitment to putting the option of healthy, organic food on the table again for Americans who want to know exactly what they are eating.

Today’s article by Madison Jones offers an unbiased discussion about the risks and potential benefits of genetically modified food.

Using Biology to Bolster the World’s Food Production Capability

The rise of genetically modified organisms, commonly called GMOs, have sparked something of a furor in many political circles. While there are some definite benefits to genetically altering food crops—disease resistance and improved nutrient content among them—many remain concerned that altering nature in such a methodical, calculating way may have unintended consequences. GMOs are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in the developing world, leaving lawmakers and politicians scrambling to keep up with the developments. Genetically modified food is still a long way from the norm, but developments and early successes mean that it is unlikely to fade away. The battle looking forward is most likely going to be about limits: about which modifications are acceptable, and how consumers must be made aware of the history of their food.

Genetic modification is a precise science through which the DNA of a plant is altered in a lab. Scientists isolate genes from one organism—one that is naturally resistant to a certain form of pesticide or fungus, for instance—then insert them into the genetic code of another. The result is a plant that may look and taste the same on the outside, but has a different genetic sequence.

The process is different from selective breeding or grafting, where farmers target certain plants for their natural characteristics. “In traditional breeding it is possible to mate a pig with another pig to get a new variety, but is not possible to mate a pig with a potato or a mouse,” the Institute for Responsible Technology, a non-profit organization dedicated to consumer food awareness, explains. “With genetic engineering, scientists can breach species barriers set up by nature. For example, they have spliced fish genes into tomatoes. The results are plants (or animals) with traits that would be virtually impossible to obtain with natural processes, such as crossbreeding or grafting.”

Most of the genetic modifications that happen in the United States are for crop viability. Corn and soybeans, two of the most-used foods for raw consumption, processed foods, and animal feed, not to mention biofuels, are two of the longest-standing examples. When these crops are made pesticide-resistant, farmers can douse entire fields in toxins without worrying whether the corn or soybean plants will die. This saves time and money in weeding, and also reduces crop loss. This can lower the ultimate price to the consumer.

Drought resistance is another attribute scientists are looking to introduce. American farmers typically lose a certain percentage of their crops each year to drought and disease. With GMOs, these losses could be minimized significantly.

Despite these benefits, many remain uneasy about the GMO process. First, skeptics wonder about the ecological ramifications of genetic foods. Not only might GMOs encourage more rampant pesticide use, which can run into streams and watersheds, but it may also forever alter the way plants reproduce naturally. There are also health concerns. GMOs may increase allergic sensitivities, some say, and may also impact human genetic makeup over time.

There is very little research into what, if any, real risks come from GMOs. The World Health Organization has not placed any restrictions or advisories on the consumption of genetically modified food, at least not yet; it has outlined some of the potential health threats, however.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the WHO’s chief concerns. “Gene transfer from GM foods to cells of the body or to bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract would cause concern if the transferred genetic material adversely affects human health. This would be particularly relevant if antibiotic resistance genes, used in creating GMOs, were to be transferred,” the WHO said. Humans who become antibiotic resistant may stop responding to treatment for contagious diseases like tuberculosis, which could lead to pandemic.

There is also some concern when it comes to “outcrossing,” the inter-breeding of genetically modified foods with other crops destined for other purposes. A corn optimized for biofuel production that crossbreeds with a corn designed for enhanced human nutrition could have potentially harmful effects, the WHO said.

Though the chances of these harms actually occurring are generally quite low, they have nonetheless sparked fear in the hearts of many lawmakers. Ireland, for example, has banned the growth of GMOs outright. Egypt and Japan have both banned the import of GMO foods unless they are specifically labeled as such. Labeling is also usually the chief concern in the U.S., where most genetically-modified foods originate. Consumer advocacy groups argue that shoppers should be able to make an informed choice when it comes to what they purchase, eat, and feed their families. No national labeling laws currently exist, though some states have begun mandating labeling on an individual basis.

Despite some fervent opposition, genetically modified foods are likely to continue being developed. The benefits for global food supply usually outweigh the risks and potential detriments. Much remains to be learned about the long-term effects of GMOs, however. Until there are more facts available, the debate will continue to rage on.

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest post are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Green N Brown. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

Seven billion People! One billion Cars!

carsShocking!! Especially when most of the nations in the world are still at various stages of economic development and the average household size across most of them is about 4 people. This translates to about 1 car for every 2 households!!!

With a population size of 312 million, United States alone has over 240 million vehicles – one for every 1.3 people. Let’s compare this with China – ownership rates in China are about 1 car per 17.2 people but here is the interesting part – the number of registrations has grown by over 27% as versus 1% in America. This translates into a whooping 78 million!

If China could match the ownership rates of that of the US it could hold 1 billion cars all by herself.

China added 16.8 million vehicles to the everyday traffic jam last year. The growth has given China the world’s second-largest vehicle population, placing it ahead of Japan. Analysts forecast the Chinese car market is treading to cross the 20 million cars in a few years and could possibly reach as high as 40 million by the end of the decade. This leads into projections of the world’s vehicle population reaching 2.5 billion by 2050.

Are we ready for this? Is our infrastructure designed to accommodate car population at these scales? Questions that need to become worries for everyone…

Urban Future – A BIG Question Mark?

urban futureTrailing thoughts -> World population (2030) will be 8 billion -> 60% of these will live in cities -> almost 5 billion urban dwellers -> 20% of these will live in slums and similar deplorable conditions, that is 1 billion -> we are sitting on a time bomb without adequate urban infrastructure, water and sanitation, what appalling is the state of denial we live in today!!
HOW DO WE MOVE FROM A CULTURE OF RE-ACTION TO A CULTURE OF PRO-ACTION???
We must acknowledge that the future of humankind will be urban…so now the BIG questions are:
  • What kind of “urban cities” will exist in 2030?
  • How can we assure that these urban cities are organized and managed in such a way so that the eco-resource systems of which they are part are sustained and continue to provide the inputs such as water etc. that are necessary to sustain urban cities?
  • What needs to be done to develop the types of urban cities that provide the basic needs of their population so that they exist in healthy, safe and liveable environments and that can productively contribute to the economic, social and political aspects of the nations of which they are part?

A sustainable urban future needs an understanding of complexity and a pro-active planning and governance system for an urban reality, that is:

urban future

 

 

  • Multi-layered and therefore needs to be approached based on the subsidiary principle
  • Multi-sectoral and therefore needs to be approached in an interdisciplinary and integrated manner
  • So complex that it must involve both formal governmental institutions, as well as civil society

 

The world is changing at a pace that is much faster than the history testifies for us – this calls for actions at a speed that can outpace the change – failure is NOT an option, human survival is at stake…

Organic Food to Sustain Future Food Demands

A growing population eventually means growing pressures on food demands the world over. With an estimated population of over 8 billion by 2030, the food demand is expected to surpass $30 trillion mark by the same year. This implies that the agricultural yield have to improve significantly to support larger food demands to feed the masses.

A study conducted by Environmental Health Perspectives in 2007 concluded that organic farming could produce enough food (organic foods that is) on a global per capita basis to sustain the current human population, and potentially an even larger population, without increasing the agricultural land base. The study also revealed that while in developed countries, organic systems on average produce 92% of the yield produced by conventional agriculture; organic systems produce 80% more than conventional farms in developing countries, because the materials needed for organic farming are more accessible than synthetic farming materials to farmers in some poor countries.

As the world enters an era in which global food production is likely to double, it is critical that agricultural practices be modified to minimize environmental impacts. Organic farming methods have smaller environmental footprint:

  • Organic farms do not consume or release synthetic pesticides into the environment—some of which have the potential to harm soil, water and local terrestrial and aquatic wildlife
  • Organic farms are better than conventional farms at sustaining diverse ecosystems, i.e., populations of plants and insects, as well as animals
  • When calculated either per unit area or per unit of yield, organic farms use less energy and produce less waste, e.g., waste such as packaging materials for chemicals