Curtailing the GMO conundrum

What will be the biggest problems facing humanity in the next 35 years? With the UN estimating a world population of approximately 9.7 billion by 2050 this question is no more pertinent than it is today.

Engineering plants (though with eyes is a bit far fetched!)

Regardless of your biases and inclinations towards other worldy problems (I’m looking at you climate change sceptics!) it is undeniable that food shortages will become an ever increasing, and catastrophic, problem.

Even today, by the more modest estimates, there is more food produced on this earth than is needed to feed some 7 billion mouths. Therefore blind increases in production is necesaary but unfortunately not sufficient to combat food shortages. It is clear that there is a distribution issue here.

The short-term-bandage solution would be to collect wasted food (unsold at the supermarket, unopened at home, etc..) and distribute this to poorer corners of the world. However, we can’t even successfully deliver unused food to many of the homeless popualtion in our own countries let alone others! A different appraoch is needed.

Enter SynBio. More specifically, CRIPSR. To solve the distribution conundrum we could aim to produce more food locally. Largely those countries hit hardest by food shortages tend to be those where food is hardest to grow/rear. Therefore there must lie a solution here. Sure, GMO’s looked like they had the answer. However in the hands of multi-national conglomerate organisation (no name shaming here, you know who you are!) GMO’s ended up with a pretty bad PR issue. Forcing GMO’s on the population by shoving scientific fact down the throat of the public has NOT been proven to work. A newer appraoch is necessary.

CRISPR is a technique to alter the genes of an orgnaism. A modificaiton of this has recently been applied to plants. Published in Nature Biotechnology this week Korean researchers have shown a method to alter the genome of a plant without introducing any new genes into it. Win win I think.

Here is the picture: Genetically engineered plants to grow and survive in harsher climates, no new genes introduced, silencing of the GMO’s nay-sayers (their validitiy is an issue for another time), more locally produced produce, ease on food distribution, less food shortages, more food security for the world.

The future is bright.

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