Genetic Improvement in the Seed Industry

In Tomorrow’s Table, Chapter 12, “Who Owns The Genes? The Seed Industry: Accelerating or Impeding Innovation?” Pamela Ronald and Raoul Adamchak discuss how the agricultural production is essential for human life in which case can be somewhat of an issue for some countries given that populations are growing and the demand is only expanding overtime. The idea of having different issues related to the role of genetic engineering and organic farming in food production. Genetically engineered crops versus organically grown is controversial since it is framed amongst the concept between science and nature itself. The genetically improved crops are capable of existing depending on the property restrictions that are applied for developers. Farmers that grow genetically engineered (GE) crops realized that it has substantial economic and environmental benefits such as lowering production costs, fewer pest issues, and better yields overalls in comparison to conventional crops. Although, the concern remains for many industrialized nations when using technology and resources to develop commercial products. The seeds play the major role in the production and overall improvement of the agricultural crop growth. The future of agriculture is in the hands of the ways in which the farmers organize plot breeding and seed production in order to perform at high levels over the years for humanity.
As mentioned in Lecture 14, plant improvement is achieved when adaptations are made due to the environment, resistance to certain pests, and nutritional value (Walling, 6). Food production can be increased with various methods such as improved agronomic practices as in fertilizers, agricultural practices like crop rotation and insect control, and also improving the varieties of plants. Although, the methods such as gene and DNA implementation can advance the production which can balance the environment. It is also mentioned that in the United States there are twenty seed banks one which is located in Riverside (Walling, 28). The purpose of seed banks is to be able to protect and save the plant genetic diversity. The idea of having these seeds since they would be useful for breeders when it comes down to using the genes to develop improved varieties of major food crops. It would be considered inducing mutations which is inducing hereditary changes by using radiation to pass the DNA sequence (Walling, 35).
In lecture, the Food Evolution documentary connected to the concerns that are presented in this chapter in which there seems to be relevant issues of safety and value on certain technologies for global food security. The documentary portrays both sides of the GMO controversy in which some individuals agree with the use of science in the development of crops and others fear the long run consequences that can occur. In the documentary it shows how individuals are promoting the idea that genetically modified organisms (GMO) is safe to consume and is definitely needed due to the increase of population and the threats of climate change. The question as to whether genetically engineered crops are harmful to human health and the environment as a whole. Even though, food safety has been a major concern for the GMO activists, many farmers, scientists, and other activists have drawn close attention to the concentration of the GMO and seed industry. The purpose of looking at the environmental and social harms that it might develop in industrial agriculture, environmental issues, and also the loss of the right for people to choose what they eat and how it is grown.
In connection to one concern in the film, the chapter in Tomorrow’s Table also addresses how the use of pesticides can ultimately affect crops in which case it would be beneficial to develop new means of disease control in crops. Pamela Ronald and Raoul Adamchak state, “High-volume applications of pesticides, fertilizer, and irrigation water have left soils polluted, salty, and depleted of nutrients while also straining limited water and energy resources” (Ronald et al., 200). The situation with food production has become worse due to having to find new farming practices in order to enhance long-term food production for the high demand that is arising in the world. Although many plant breeders since they do rely on the income which comes from the crops they take in consideration the use of the Plant Variety Protection (PVP). The PVP act is the ability to remain breeding with the same variety (Ronald er al., 201). In other words, the act allows the developers of new varieties the right to sell seed stocks with the permission of the certificate holder. Although, the farmers can save seeds for replanting.
In Lecture 15, the green revolution is a factor in the increase of crop production in many developing countries with the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and high-yield crop varieties. Plants are capable of receiving minerals, micronutrients from other soil variations which ultimately plays an important factor in the growth (Walling, 25). Although, the Green Revolution has many benefits such as increasing food supply which decreases the cost of food for billions of people to get saved from starvation. On the contrary, the fertilizers and pesticides that are implemented to the crops can contaminate the surroundings such as the soil and water. The idea of finding new strategies such as using friendly bacteria in order to remain enhancing crop production without harming the environmental surroundings in the process. As mentioned in the lecture, organic farming would be an option that can be a more sustainable alternative when it comes to food production since it can keep water supplies clean while improving soil quality and reducing pollution. The issue would be that production costs would be higher and less food would be produced.
In the end, it is clear that farmers face a tremendous issue since they are trying to create and preserve larger yields without having to resort to expensive and environmentally hazardous chemicals that can be potentially be harmful not only to the crops, but to the consumers as well. Although, genetic engineering is considered a valuable tool for farmers in the sense in which it addresses real agricultural problems such as pests, diseases, weeds, amongst other issues. Genetic engineering might not quite be the best option yet like any tool it can be manipulated by the social, economic, and political forces to either create positive or negative results. The advances that have evolving in molecular and cellular biology has allowed scientists to determine the desirable traits from other species and add them to the crop plants. The ability to transfer such genes to create the desire crop plant has tremendously shown an improvement in previous plant breeding techniques. Even though the GE traits allows for plants to create their own insecticide, it has been reported that GE crops affect environment and human health in the long-run. Overall, the main goal is to keep ourselves healthy and fed as well as be able to preserve the environment for the upcoming generations. The reality is that the world consists of systematic modification, yet there can be a mix of utilizing tools that will be less harmful for the environment yet remain producing the same amount of nutrition for consumers.

Works Cited

 

  • Kennedy, Scott H. “Food Evolution Documentary”
  • Ronald, Pamela C., and Raoul W. Adamchak. Tomorrows Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food. Oxford University Press, 2018.
  • Walling, Linda. Lecture 14 Plant Improvement & Sugar Beets. Feb. 2020, https://ilearn.ucr.edu/ bbcswebdav/pid-3778941-dt-content-rid-34525913_1/courses/BPSC_021_001_20W/ Lecture%2014-%20Plant%20Improvement%20%26%20sugar%20beets%202020- revised.pdf
  • Walling, Linda. Lecture 15 The Green Revolution, Rice & Genes. Mar. 2020, https:// ilearn.ucr.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-3781706-dt-content-rid-34618401_1/courses/ BPSC_021_001_20W/Lecture%2015-Plant%20Improvement-Green%20Rev-Rice-Genes %202020%281%29.pdf