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Earth’s Sustainability and GMOs – John K

So, to start,  think about the fruits and vegetables that you buy at the grocery store, and think about where they come from and how they are produced.  Do you think they’re 100% natural, since most of them are labeled to be?

Well, as bad as it may sound, the answer is probably no.  Nearly all crops produced in the United States have been genetically modified in some way, shape or form to combat a major problem concerning the health of the crops that we produce…  And that’s Pests.

GMOs (genetically modified organisms), are very controversial, but are essentially engineered crops that supposedly resist pests, but also have no negative side effects when consumed.

So, I found a New York Times article from October of this year with surprising information about the differences in crop health and yields between the United States and Europe.  What the newspaper found with the help of United Nations data is that corn crop yield per hectare of land in the United States has been virtually the exact same as the corn crop yield per hectare in Western Europe – which, many of us have heard, Europe is known to oppose all GMOs, because of the unknown side effects that comes with them.

The importance of this new information is that it reveals that all of the time and money funneled into researching GMO’s that can resist pests in the United States has, at least according to this new research, fared our crop yields no better than Europe’s – a country that does not invest even half of what we do in GMO’s, and has virtually the same yield as us.

Researchers found similar results with the Sugar Beet Crop.  Since the early 2000s, Sugar Beet Crop yield has slowly increased at the same rate between the US and Europe, which is surprising considering the US only produces genetically modified Sugar Beets – it would be expected that the United States’ crop yield soars over that of Europe.

Now, recently in class we’ve discussed the meaning of an environmentally sustainable society and the Earth’s carrying capacity.  This research is significant because it shows that, while it was believed that that the United States and other countries producing GMOs would be able to yield higher amounts of crops to deal with the Earth’s rising population, it is now apparent that the results aren’t as predicted, and in several decades, the quantity of food able to be produced may become a major problem.

Population increases exponentially, but our ability to produce healthy, pest-proof crops does not.  Since GMOs may not currently be the answer to maintaining higher-than-normal crop yields, researchers will have to invent more successful ways of genetic modification, or discover new methods all together in order to feed the Earth’s ever-increasing population.

 

Sources:

The New York Times|Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations | Note: Western Europe is France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Austria.

Corn Produtcion.  GMO vs Non-GMO
Corn Produtcion. GMO vs Non-GMO

 

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