Agricultural Biotechnology – An Opportunity to Feed a World of Ten Billion

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Abstract or Summary

The latest United Nations population projection predict that the human population will expand from roughly 7.5 billion to between 8.3 and 10.9 billion by mid-century. This presents an acute need to increase agricultural productivity quickly and to do so without unduly damaging the many other kinds of organisms that share our planet. The advances of genetic engineering and genetic modification hold the promise of making it possible for us to grow more food on the same amount of land using less water, energy, and chemicals: critically important objectives if we are to live sustainably within planetary constraints. At the same time, these advances have evoked an almost unprecedented level of societal controversy quite specifically in the realm of food production, resulting in the proliferation of regulatory and legal issues that threaten to block their use in achieving a more sustainable existence for humanity on planet Earth. If modern science is to contribute to the agricultural productivity increase required in coming decades as the climate warms and the human population continues to grow, it is imperative to get beyond the cultural and political biases against molecular crop modification, acknowledge the safety record of GM crops, and ease the regulatory barriers to their development and deployment.

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