98 million farmers. It is reported that in a review of sustainable agriculture projects findings show that "average food production per household increased by 1.71 tons per year (up 73%) for 4.42 million farmers on 3.58 million hectares, bringing food security and health benefits to local communities. Increasing agricultural productivity has been shown to also increase food supplies and raise incomes, thereby reducing poverty, increasing access to food, reducing malnutrition and improving health and livelihoods." (Independent Science Panel, 2003) Sustainable agriculture results in low-cost and readily available food resources being gained by consumers since organic food is safer. Specifically it is reported that: "Sustainable agricultural approaches draw extensively on traditional and indigenous knowledge, and place emphasis on the farmers' experience and innovation. This thereby utilizes appropriate, low-cost and readily available local resources as well as improves farmers' status and autonomy, enhancing social and cultural relations within local communities." (Independent Science Panel, 2003)
VIII. Controversy Surrounding Transgenic Crops
The work of Schahczenski and Adam (2006) states that there has been "great controversy among government agencies, business consortia, researchers, and certain nonprofit organizations" concerning the "capacity to produce transgenic crops." In 2001 it is related that the Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy (ESCOP) and the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) published a report on issues that are considered critical in agricultural biotechnology and responses that are recommended including education of the public and a land-grant research project on transgenic crops. There is reported to be no uniform definition that is widely accepted for biotechnology specific to transgenic crops. It is further stated that the current methods used in gene transfer "are not precise" since scientists can control "with relative exactness the 'trait gene' to be inserted into a host plant genome, they cannot entirely control its location, nor the number of copies that get inserted." (Schahczenski and Adam, 2006)
The work of Ervin, et al. (2000) report that the potential benefits of planting insect-resistant transgenic crops includes "decreased insecticide use and reduced crop damage." However, it is reported that there is the problem of the insect's ability to rapidly adapt to pressures of the environment and this includes" adaptation to pest protection mechanisms..." (Ervin, et al., 2000) While transgenic crop technologies are stated to have the potential "to enhance yields, it is reported by Ruttan (1999) that "higher levels of public support for basic research in functional genomics and other areas will be necessary to achieve significant yield increases." (cited in: Ervin, et al., 2000)
IX. Benefits of Transgenic Crops
The World Food Program is stated to have reported that the number of individuals who suffer from malnutrition increased by 25 million from 815 to 840 million. It is stated that the most compelling case for biotechnology is the capacity to:
(1) increase crop productivity and contribute to global food, feed and fiber security;
(2) conserve biodiversity;
(3) more efficient use of external inputs for a more sustainable agriculture and environment;
It was reported October 19, 2007 that there is a new technique that speeds up transgenic crop design which has been developed by scientists and which involves a new method of construction of artificial plant chromosomes "from small rings of naturally occurring plant DNA which can be used to transport multiple genes at once into embryonic plants where they are expressed, duplicated as plant cells divide and are passed on to the next generation -- a long-term goal for those interested in improving agricultural productivity." (Biopact, 2007)
According to Daphen Preuss, PhD professor of molecular genetics and cell biology at the University of Chicago the technique has applications that will serve energy crop and biofuel production. Specifically Preuss states:
"This appears be the tool that agricultural scientists, and farmers, have long dreamed of. This technology could be used to increase the hardiness, yield and nutritional content of crops. It could improve the production of ethanol or other biofuels. It could enable plants to make complex biochemicals, such as medicines, at very little expense.
Summary and Conclusion
While genetically modified crops have not been proven to be safe and since these crops are creating an entirely new approach to food source stability and endurance when battling insects and other environmental challenges to crop growth. There is much more needed in the way of research in this area of study. Transgenic crops are known to cause effects to other natural crops however, the complete understanding of this phenomenon is as of yet studied in depth.
This study has noted that sustainable agriculture is recommended as an alternative method. Sustainable agriculture is characterized by the lack of harmful agents known to be present in transgenic crop farming. Finally, there is a great deal of research yet to conduct in regards to environmental warming and climate change.
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