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CABI Book Chapter

Environmental impact of genetically modified crops.

Book cover for Environmental impact of genetically modified crops.


This book, containing 20 chapters, addresses the major concerns of scientists, policy makers, environmental lobby groups and the general public regarding the controversial issue on environmental impact (e.g. on soil and water ecology and nontarget organisms) of transgenic crops, from an editorially neutral standpoint. While the main focus is on environmental impact, food safety issues for both hum...

Chapter 3 (Page no: 42)

Developing a 21st century view of agriculture and the environment.

Both poverty and malnutrition are serious problems in the world and both are interrelated. Food security for the poor depends on an adequate supply of food and/or the ability to purchase food. Unfortunately in the world today, more than 3.7 billion people are malnourished because of shortages of calories, protein, several vitamins, iron and iodine (World Health Organization, 2005; Rhodes, 2005). People can die because of shortage of any one of these nutrients or a combination of them. The total of 3.7 billion malnourished people is the largest number ever in history. In the world today, there are more than 6.5 billion humans (PRB, 2006). Based on current rates of increase, the world population is projected to double to more than 13 billion in about 58 years (PRB, 2006). At a time when the world population continues to expand at a rate of 1.2% per year, adding more than a quarter million people daily, providing adequate food becomes an increasingly difficult problem. Conceivably, the numbers of the malnourished will reach 5 billion in a few decades. Reports from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the US Department of Agriculture, as well as numerous other international organizations, further confirm the serious nature of the global food supply. For example, the per capita availability of world cereal grains, which make up 80% of the world's food supply, has been declining for more than two decades. This decline is taking place despite all the current agricultural and biotechnological facilities available. Malnourished people are more susceptible to numerous diseases, like malaria, tuberculosis, schistosomiasis and AIDS. The World Health Organization reports that there are more than 2.4 billion people infected with malaria, 2 billion infected with tuberculosis, 600 million infected with schistosomiasis and 40 million infected with AIDS (Pimentel et al., 2004). In this chapter, we will examine the need to increase and make more rational food production, to conserve natural resources, to reduce food (crop) losses to pests, to consider the possibility and benefits of converting annual grains into perennial grains and to consider new crops and innovative minilivestock.

Other chapters from this book

Chapter: 1 (Page no: 3) Transgenic crops and their applications for sustainable agriculture and food security. Author(s): Christou, P. Capell, T.
Chapter: 2 (Page no: 23) Environmental benefits of genetically modified crops. Author(s): Edwards, M. G. Poppy, G. M.
Chapter: 4 (Page no: 61) Environmental risk assessment. Author(s): Tencalla, F. G. Nickson, T. E. Garcia-Alonso, M.
Chapter: 5 (Page no: 74) Insect resistance to genetically modified crops. Author(s): Tabashnik, B. E. Carrière, Y.
Chapter: 6 (Page no: 101) Resistance management of transgenic insect-resistant crops: ecological factors. Author(s): Raymond, B. Wright, D. J.
Chapter: 7 (Page no: 115) Herbicide-tolerant genetically modified crops: resistance management. Author(s): Owen, M. D. K.
Chapter: 8 (Page no: 165) Impact of insect-resistant transgenic crops on aboveground non-target arthropods. Author(s): Romeis, J. Meissle, M. Raybould, A. Hellmich, R. L.
Chapter: 9 (Page no: 199) Impact of genetically modified crops on pollinators. Author(s): Malone, L. A. Burgess, E. P. J.
Chapter: 10 (Page no: 225) Impact of genetically modified crops on soil and water ecology. Author(s): Wheatley, R.
Chapter: 11 (Page no: 240) Biodiversity and genetically modified crops. Author(s): Ammann, K.
Chapter: 12 (Page no: 265) Potential wider impact: farmland birds. Author(s): Whittingham, M. J.
Chapter: 13 (Page no: 278) Safety for human consumption. Author(s): Phipps, R. H.
Chapter: 14 (Page no: 296) Biofuels: Jatropha curcas as a novel, non-edible oilseed plant for biodiesel. Author(s): Kohli, A. Raorane, M. Popluechai, S. Kannan, U. Syers, J. K. O'Donnell, A. G.
Chapter: 15 (Page no: 327) European commercial genetically modified plantings and field trials. Author(s): Ortego, F. Pons, X. Albajes, R. Castañera, P.
Chapter: 16 (Page no: 344) Monitoring Bt resistance in the field: China as a case study. Author(s): He, K. L. Wang, Z. Y. Zhang, Y. J.
Chapter: 17 (Page no: 360) Current status of crop biotechnology in Africa. Author(s): George, D.
Chapter: 18 (Page no: 383) Agriculture, innovation and environment. Author(s): Ferry, N. Gatehouse, A. M. R.

Chapter details