World Food Supply

The production of transgenic crop varieties is expensive and requires resources that are unavailable to many developing countries. Some have criticized that ownership and control of the production of transgenic crops currently grown is in the hands of a few powerful corporations, often resulting in restrictive conditions on farmers buying their seed. The importance of biotechnology for developing countries has been debated. Some debate that biotechnology will not ensure food security, nor reduce poverty in the developing world, while others believe biotechnology will be important to the developing world. 

Anti-biotechnology arguments for the developing world

  • Emphasis on traditional diversified farming systems are more sustainable and productive
  • Biotechnology is not sufficient for addressing the food supply and nutritional problems of developing countries
  • The potential environmental risks of implementing production of crops via biotechnology, such as gene movement, production of “super-weeds”, and resistance to changes by pests, outweigh possible benefits of implementation
  • There is an absence of regulations, and regulatory agencies in many developing countries

Pro-biotechnology arguments for the developing world

  • Biotechnology could help improve the nutritional profile in the staple foods of developing countries, and thus would help to alleviate nutritional deficiencies
  • Biotechnology could help developing countries produce plants that are tolerant to adverse and extreme weather conditions, such as cold, drought, etc. The technology could also produce insect resistant plants that improve yield and use less topical pesticides.
  • Biotechnology offers the potential for the delivery of pharmaceuticals, such as edible vaccines, by incorporating them into the food staples.

Consumers, educators, and professionals can draw their own conclusions about the relative importance of the potential risks and benefits of biotechnology. The conditions specific to each developing country, will likely determine how or if biotechnology is implemented, as well as the prevalence of risks and benefits.