Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Adequate Food Production Requires Technology Use

Biotech, Nanotech and Synthetic Biology Roles in Future Food Supply Explored

ScienceDaily (Feb. 25, 2010) — Some say the world's population will swell to 9 billion people by 2030 and that will present significant challenges for agriculture to provide enough food to meet demand, says University of Idaho animal scientist Rod Hill.

Hill and Larry Branen, a University of Idaho food scientist, organized a symposium during the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting February 17 to explore ways biotechnology could provide healthy and plentiful animal-based foods to meet future demands.

Synthetic biology, nanotechnology, genetic engineering and other applications of biotechnology -- and the public's role in determining their acceptable uses -- were all addressed by panelists during the session.

The goal for the session, which was part of the nation's largest general science meeting held annually, was to encourage a dialogue among scientists and the public, said Hill, a Moscow-based molecular physiologist who studies muscle growth in cattle.

"There will be a significant challenge for agriculture and the science that will be required to provide a healthy, nutritious and adequate food supply in coming decades for a rapidly growing population," Hill said.
A key question, he said, is whether the Earth can continue to provide enough food without technological support. The history of civilization and agriculture during the last 10,000 years suggests otherwise.

"Unaided food production is an unattainable ideal -- current society is irrevocably grounded in the technological interventions underpinning the agricultural revolution that now strives to feed the world," Hill said. Read More

I have no doubts that technology will continue providing with the answers to feeding a growing world. In contrast, obtaining the social license to use that technology could be the biggest challenge. Unfortunately, it may come down to a simple question that everyone will have to answer. Do we abandon technology and concede that millions, if not billions, of people will starve to death? Or do we utilize safe, proven technology to ensure we can feed as many people as possible? How you answer that question will probably depend on how full your stomach is at the time you are being asked.

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