Hunger + Genetically Modified Animals = ?
Everyone has had to have heard something about hunger and the amount of humans that are currently alive on this planet. You could have heard about this in school, on the radio, or when you didn’t want to eat all of your food— but your mother told you that you are lucky to be able to have food as there are a lot of starving people in the world, so you ate everything you were given.
We know that there are starving people, but does this fact make an impact on us? Do we think about it, or do we just give it a passing thought?
How many people in this world are starving or malnourished? We know it is a lot, but how much is a lot?
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations stated in 2015 that there is about 795 million people who are malnourished. 795 million people is a lot of people that need food.
You could say that those people are malnourished because they are poor, so getting food is an issue.
But is money the only issue?
I do not believe so.
Please, just forget about the monetary cost of food for a moment. Have you forgotten about it? Alright then, do you know what it takes to get a quarter pound hamburger?
A quarter pound hamburger can cost 6.7 pounds of feed, 52.8 gallons of water for the animals and the feed crops, 74.5 acres of land for grazing and growing the feed crops and 1,036 Btus of fossil fuel energy for feed production and transport. You also can’t forget about the animal’s waste products — methane emissions. I was just talking about what it takes to make the beef patty of the burger. The amount of resources that goes into making a quarter pound hamburger is a lot.
There is a finite amount of resources on earth. Thus, there are not enough resources — land and water for agriculture or grazing animals — in the world to provide for the amount of people alive on earth now. As the number of people increase, more food will be needed. Make no mistake, the human population will increase, and so the number of malnourished people will also increase. Plus, with climate change there will be a decrease in agriculture and livestock productions; organisms need certain climates to give a good amount of food products.
What could the solution to humanities’ food problem be?
Genetically modified animals!
There is the GM AquAdvantage salmon that has been genetically altered to grow faster and use resources much more efficiently than a non-altered salmon would.
Via genetic modification you can have animals that grow faster and are more efficient, in other words, the genetically modified animals can be made to produce less waste products and be resistant to disease. This is good, you can have more genetically modified animals for less resources per animal than a normal animal would need to use. If you have disease resistant animals, you wouldn’t — for instance — have to worry about cows getting mad-cow disease. Animals can be modified to produce food products that allows people with food allergies to eat them. You can genetically alter beef cattle to produce offspring that produce more meat, such as female cows with male cow traits. This genetic modification will stop female cows being culled as they produce less meat than male cows. Yay! Less resources wasted!
Some people may feel uncomfortable with the thought of eating products that come from genetically modified animals, but all livestock have been, in a low tech way, genetically modified via centuries of selective breeding by humans. Livestock look different from their non-domesticated ancestors as they were bred by people to produce more milk, eggs or meat.
GM animals might be the solution to world hunger — but, could GM animals cause a problem that is much worse than world hunger? Right now, that answer is unknown.