How are we going to feed the world?

PUBLISHED: 16:00 04 December 2019

Neville Evans, of Bicton Park Botanical Gardens. Picture: Bicton Park Botanical Gardens

Neville Evans, of Bicton Park Botanical Gardens. Picture: Bicton Park Botanical Gardens

Archant

Guest columnist Neville Evans asks whether genetically modified crops are the way forward.

Having recently had a new addition to our family, sleep deprivation has led to some rather deep thoughts.

I have a friend who says she doesn't want to have children due to the impact on the planet, which is a very selfless view and does raise questions about the global population.

I am now lucky enough to have two beautiful children, but like all humans they require food, water, shelter and 'stuff', a lot of 'stuff'.

While I try to be responsible and do my bit to limit our impact on the planet, it is inevitable that nappies, wet wipes, toys etc, will eventually make their way into the bin.

While the output of detritus of a modern family is vast, what is consumed is equally alarming.

Food is something all humans around the world need on a regular basis however rich or poor you are.

Agricultural practices are streamlined to get the most out of the soil, some more sustainably than others.

Soya beans, palm oil and cattle rearing have some of the biggest impacts on agriculture and plant and animal conservation.

Choosing what we eat in the West is full of options and alternatives; blue, green, red, organic, soya, oat, rice, coconut - and that's just milk.

This is, of course, a total luxury.

But how do you feed a rapidly increasing population, many of whom are the poorest in the world?

Are genetically modified crops the way forward? Controversial I know.

The ability to add extra nutrients into a single grain to reduce malnutrition, and crops that are more resistant to drought and disease for some who can't afford to shop at Waitrose, is, on paper, quite appealing.

Of course, there are massive ethical and corporate issues around GM, but careful, controlled investigation on global scale would open up the debate and reduce the power of a select few.

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