Webster’s Dictionary defines the word humanitarian as “A person promoting human welfare and social reform; A philanthropist”. Many associate this title with people who work in third world countries, for disaster relief, and people who work to help others.
Look at the situation still going on in the south with hurricanes having gone through wrecking havoc. By bringing truckloads of supplies, the Red Cross is going down to help bringing food and supplies. Shelters are being opened and even families in areas not affected are opening up their farms and homes to house people and livestock. There is an influx of needed supplies such as food, clean water, and hygiene products.
Even with disasters such as this, one of the most fought issues plaguing people abroad and at home is still hunger. Especially in the wake of a natural disaster. According to Feeding America, in 2015 there was 29.1 million adults, and 13.1 million children living in food insecure homes, where there was no guaranteed access to food. Adults skipping meals to ensure that their children are fed, and children going hungry due to lack of food. There seems to be plenty of food being produced, so why is hunger still such a problem in America? There could be several potential answers, ranging anywhere to an increase of families living in poverty, to a decrease in agriculture commodity prices, to poor transportation in getting food where it needs to be.
One thing that influences these reasons, is environmental change. I’m not talking about climate change or global warning, but instead industrialization and population increase. Farmers are selling their crop land to businesses and development corporations. They can make a better profit by selling their field than they can trying to farm it. This reduces the available cropland and means that farmers have to feed the ever growing population with less land.
The world population is on course to expand from 7.4 billion in 2016, to 11.2 billion by 2100. There is a constant increase of life, and crop land acres decreasing. How do we solve this? Scientists in top crop companies such as Monsanto have been working on genetically engineering their seeds to be more productive. What does it mean for the food supply if we have crops that are drought and insect resistant? What if we can grow 100+ bushels of wheat on a field that would normally only get 50 bushels? The truth is that without genetically modified crops, people will starve. The land available will be unable to produce enough food to feed the world.
What does this mean for those of us in food secure places? Why should we care what happens if we will always be able to afford food, and the grocery shelves will always be stocked? well, you technically don’t have to care, however you should. I’m not talking about children in Africa who are starving because of drought, I’m talking about the kids and families in your neighborhood who have a hard time affording food. Think back to the statistics of how many children go hungry each night. If food was more affordable because there was simply more of it to go around, how much could we decrease the number of hungry families? If a GMO soybean helped enough that there would be enough food to go around, what would the difference be?
If the stats about food insecure households in America is before the world can’t produce enough food, just imagine how much that number will increase when food becomes more in demand, and commodity prices skyrocket to meet the market’s need. Genetically engineered crops ensure that there will be enough food for everyone, and that it will be more affordable. That plant geneticist that created a new wheat variety will have helped to stomp out hunger. That new variety of soybean will help to bring down food costs enough for more families to buy food. Think of the lives that could be saved, and the children that will no longer go hungry at night because of this technology we have available of genetically engineering our food.
Come back next week for part two, about the safety of GMO’s!