'The world already produces enough food to feed 10 billion people but over two billion are experiencing micronutrient deficiencies (of which 821 million were classed as chronically undernourished in 2018).
However, supporters of genetic engineering (GE) crops continually push the narrative that GE technology is required if we are to feed the world and properly support farmers.
First of all, it must be stressed that there is already sufficient evidence to question the efficacy of GE crops; however, despite this, conventional options and innovations that outperform GE crops are in danger of being sidelined in a rush by powerful, publicly unaccountable private interests like the Gates Foundation to facilitate the introduction of GE into global agriculture; crops whose main ‘added value’ is the financial rewards accrued by the corporations behind them.
Secondly, even if we are to accept that at some stage GE can supplement conventional practices, we must acknowledge that from the outset of the GMO project, the sidelining of serious concerns about the technology has occurred and despite industry claims to the contrary, there is no scientific consensus on the health impacts of GE crops.
Both the Cartagena Protocol and Codex share a precautionary approach to GE crops and foods, in that they agree that GE differs from conventional breeding. There is sufficient reason to hold back on commercialising GE crops and to subject each GMO to independent, transparent environmental, social, economic and health impact evaluations.
To evaluate the pro-GMO lobby’s rhetoric that GE is needed to ‘feed the world’, we first need to understand the dynamics of a globalized food system that fuels hunger and malnutrition against a backdrop of food overproduction. As Andrew Smolski describes it: capitalism’s production of ‘hunger in abundance’.
Over the last 50 years, we have seen the consolidation of an emerging global food regime based on agro-export mono-cropping (often with non-food commodities taking up prime agricultural land) and linked to sovereign debt repayment and World Bank/IMF ‘structural adjustment’ directives.
The outcomes have included a displacement of a food-producing peasantry, the consolidation of Western agri-food oligopolies and the transformation of many countries from food self-sufficiency into food deficit areas.
As long as these dynamics persist and food injustice remains an inherent feature of the global food regime, the rhetoric of GM being necessary for feeding the world is merely ideology and bluster.
Furthermore, if we continue to regard food as a commodity in a globalized capitalist food system, we shall continue to see the comprehensive contamination of food with sugar, bad fats, synthetic additives, GMOs and pesticides and rising rates of diseases and serious health conditions, including surges in obesity, diabetes and cancer incidence, but no let-up in the under-nutrition of those too poor to join in the over-consumption.
Looking at India as an example, although it continues to do poorly in world hunger rankings, the country has achieved self-sufficiency in food grains and has ensured there is enough food available to feed its entire population.'
Read more: Hunger Games: Food Abundance and Twisted Truths
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22 July 2017
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