global population explosion

Food security and sustainable production have become one of the most critical discussions among policymakers and commentators around the world, in light of a sustained global population explosion, scarcity and rapidly depleting resources, and documented adverse effects of climate change. As part of the discussion, everyone agreed that current agricultural trends are becoming increasingly insufficient in meeting global food and agricultural resource demands. As a result, there is widespread agreement that innovation and radical approaches are required to weather increasingly volatile, unpredictable, and seasonal global agricultural output dynamics (Niven 535). While consensus on a common, specific, concerted way to entrench sustainability and produce quality is rare, some ways have dominated such debates as potentially revolutionary in this regard. The most outstanding of these include fairtrade, organic farming, and genetic modification technology. However, when put in the current global situational context and predispositions, leveraging on technology and innovation becomes the most precise, predictable, and increasingly positively evolving approach to sustainable global production. As thus, this paper seeks to delve into an argumentative evaluation of reasons why genetic modification technology can guarantee a sustainable future given the many challenges faced by production today and is, therefore, the priority approach to sustainability.

Genetic Modification Technology for Sustainability

Science, technology, and inventiveness have been the cornerstone of civilization with the ability to define the limits of human capability. Innovation has exponentially helped to solve impossible problems in the world while expanding possibilities of human achievement. There is no doubt that technology primarily holds the key to most problems facing the world regarding production and sustainability. Genetic modification, in particular, has many inherent benefits that if exploited strategically, could spearhead the world to a more predictable and sustainable future.

While there are plausible reasons and advantages of the overall benefits of organic and fairtrade approaches to production, substantial ecological changes that have occurred in the recent past put these two models into serious jeopardy with the eventual goal of sustainability and security. Pollution, climate change and the greenhouse effect, unpredictable weather patterns, and many other increasingly severe adversities have constrained scope, quality, and quantity of production (Qaim 554). Consequently, recent advancements in technology to engineer crops and animals with resistance and immunity to these elements are a huge step towards ultimate sustainability. This is even more profound as present data and forecasts point to worsening escalation in ecological conditions and adverse climate. This information calls for a radical shift in strategy to incorporate organisms that are not susceptible to such adversities. Genetic modification technology, in this respect, becomes the only sure approach to sustainability by maximizing efforts to feed a ballooning world population. For example, as an attempt to navigate the ever rising problem of increased soil salinity that has rendered vast areas of formerly productive land derelict, scientists recently engineered a strain of tobacco that can withstand punishing levels of soil salinity by implanting genes of the grey mangrove genetically into the biological structure of the tobacco (Flowers 310).

High production costs and low volume of yields is another major problem facing agriculture today. This is due to the maintenance of crops and livestock that require a massive injection of resources in the form of pest control, weed control, and disease adverse and prevention (Brooke and Barfoot 2). By designing products that can weather these elements, a massive burden in production is relieved freeing up financial resources to intensify production. Recently, genetic alterations that maximize yields of production have been introduced, and if widely accepted and applied, output gaps will be effectively bridged to scale of production. Some engineered crops and animals produced by genetic alteration have significant benefits of requiring minimal care and input. Statistics show that places in the world with widespread food security problems are also poor and face harsh climatic conditions that make agriculture infeasible or prohibitively expensive. By being able to produce cheaply, despite harsh climates in such countries, would go a long way toward future sustainability in the long run through unleashing the production potential of formerly unproductive areas.

Genetic technology comes with an added advantage of malleability and flexibility in allowing the ability of scientists to determine their intrinsic quality and nutritional value. The approach allows for predetermination of the nutrient content and chemical composition of an organism. This is a rare advantage that enables people in different parts of the world to prioritize their nutritional needs and optimal nutritional impact as may be uniquely required on a case by case basis (Juma 37). Other advantages of such an approach include the ability to enhance the quality of the best quality products with better texture and flavor. Furthermore, the genetic modification radically and significantly cuts back on one of the principal causes of food insecurity - wastage, particularly through expiry and expensive storage. To achieve this, genetic scientists have made significant breakthroughs to engineer food with longer expiry timelines and shelf life. Most importantly, the agricultural produce can be altered to improve efficient packaging for easier shipping. The flexibility to determine the content and chemical composition of organisms has shown exciting possibilities to integrate medication within genetic make-up of products. An example of how this has been used is to develop edible vaccines (Henry, Streatfield, and Wycoff 221). Genetically engineered plants can be used to provide medication to a vast population in a safe and efficient manner. Genetic engineering has been used to produce potato plants that are transgenic to comprehensively provide pharmaceutical inoculation against diarrhea (Shelton, Minot, and Richard 847). As such, genetic modification ensures sustainability in a much more explicit and revolutionary way that encompasses potential problems of tomorrow through innovation.

There have been objections against genetic modification with issues arising as to the safety and edibility of the products produced this way. Other dissenting voices highlight the economic cost of research and development. While potential negative environmental consequences are a concern, particularly unpredictable conditions that could lead to the rise of new unforeseen diseases and effects and other evolutionary features are perfectly predictable, and education is needed to allay any fears in this respect. These concerns are not cognitive of the massive power of the science to predict ecological and evolutional dynamics, such as resistance to chemical interventions (Vanloqueren and Baret 972). Also, the technology is in principle a simple replication of various forces of nature making the technique a continuation and not alteration of natural processes. Therefore, as highlighted in the US National Research Council report of 1989, the overall evolutionary risk of genetically modified produce is far less than is the case in natural evolution (Heap and Bennett 115). The fact that genetic sciences are an ongoing field of research with infinite possibilities implies limitless opportunities to infuse improvements and advancements in the area to best address any issues that could rise to guarantee sustainability into the future. Greater safety surety is ensured given the fact that the genetic research is extremely regulated with multilayered oversight systems and stages of approval from within the research bodies, as well as from external agencies and governmental regulators. These regulations can help guarantee sustainability by ensuring prioritization in product safety and environmental preservation, as well as putting in place an integrated system to mitigate unforeseen problems and issues that arise from genetic engineering.

The inherent environmental cost of conventional organic production is another necessity for the adoption of genetic engineering for sustainable agricultural productions. Overpopulation and increased human activities, for example, are putting sustained pressure on natural vegetation and delicate ecological balance as more land is cleared up for agriculture to feed an increasingly hungry world (Bassett 44). Conventional farming has had an adverse impact on natural land resources through overuse and depletion of organic nutrients and pastures. The effects of vegetation decimation and encroachment have knocked on chain effects of increasing desertification, greenhouse effect, and the limited ability of the ecosystem to self- regulate and refresh. This has compromised water sources and towers, beside water quality and quantity through diversion and exposure. Moreover, this model of farming leaves land derelict and soil open to agents of soil erosion. The loss of biodiversity results into loss of habitat to certain species increasing animal-human conflicts and extinction of vulnerable species. A new approach is urgently needed to take advantage of optimal use of current farmlands and water resources by leveraging on the resilience guaranteed through genetic engineering to boost sustainability by using strategic preservation.

Genetic engineering enables for identification of desirable traits and characteristics in organisms. This feature is especially indispensable in livestock production helping to maximize produce by designing animals with enhanced dominant positive traits and features that give them a better competitive advantage, resilience, and high volume produces (Paull 7). These significant benefits are a real imperative in sustainability for the future in the sense that it projects traits and characteristics that buffer livestock from negative environmental changes and give them improved chances of success in adversity. Modern biotechnology has successfully reduced the time of production by developing plants and animals that mature much more rapidly and can produce across weather patterns and climatic conditions. Given the unpredictability of weather and climatic conditions in the world today, such strategic genetic achievements are the key to sustainability for the foreseeable future.


From the arguments, genetic engineering involves using various techniques to alter the genetic composition and DNA of an organism through cloning and transformation. The approach brings with it an array of benefits and advantages with high potential of applicability under trial and research currently. Some of these benefits include creating products with better resistance to pests, diseases, and weeds. The technology also provides adequate cover against adverse climatic conditions and predispositions. Besides, the produce from the technology can seriously enhance the general quality and nutritional value of products, as well as their durability. Another major advantage of the approach is the ability to generate crops that can withstand the effects of pollution, dereliction, and overexploitation of soil and land resource. On the other hand, however, some concerns are raised concerning the safety and overall environmental impact of the technology. These concerns are, however, adequately addressed within the overall context of innovative improvements and advancements, as well as the regulatory framework that confines the conduct and application of the technique. Genetic modification can provide reliable solutions to negative impacts and inefficiencies of other approaches to production, like organic farming and fairtrade approaches. It is, therefore, accurate to conclude that despite concerns, the current trends in ecological and environmental predispositions only leave biotechnology as the most effective tool to warrant sustainability in production.

Work cited

Bassett, Thomas J. "Slim pickings: fairtrade cotton in West Africa." Geoforum 41.1 (2010): 44-55.

Brookes, Graham, and Peter Barfoot. "The global income and production effects of genetically modified (GM) crops 1996–2011." GM crops & food 4.1 (2013): 74-83.

Daniell, Henry, Stephen J. Streatfield, and Keith Wycoff. "Medical molecular farming: production of antibodies, biopharmaceuticals and edible vaccines in plants." Trends in vplant science 6.5 (2001): 219-226.

Flowers, T. J. "Improving crop salt tolerance." Journal of Experimental botany 55.396 (2004): 307-319.

Heap, R. B., and D. J. Bennett. "Insights: Africa’s future–can biosciences contribute." Bamson/B4FA (2013).

Juma, Calestous. The new harvest: agricultural innovation in Africa. Oxford University Press, 2015.

Niven, Robert K. "Ethanol in gasoline: environmental impacts and sustainability review article." Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 9.6 (2005): 535-555.

Paull, John. "GMOs and organic agriculture: Six lessons from Australia." Poljoprivreda i Sumarstvo 61.1 (2015): 7.

Qaim, Matin. "Benefits of genetically modified crops for the poor: household income, nutrition, and health." New Biotechnology 27.5 (2010): 552-557.

Shelton, Anthony Minot, J-Z. Zhao and Richard Tyrone Roush. "Economic, ecological, food safety, and social consequences of the deployment of Bt transgenic plants." Annual review of entomology 47.1 (2002): 845-881.

Vanloqueren, Gaëtan, and Philippe V. Baret. "How agricultural research systems shape a technological regime that develops genetic engineering but locks out agroecological innovations." Research policy 38.6 (2009): 971-983.

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