There are valid concerns about genetically modified agriculture, but it's worth balancing those against the needs of a hungry world.
- Pakistan on the Brink
- The Future of U.S.-Mexico Relations
- The Eurozone's Austerity-Growth Debate
- U.S. Policy Options Toward Myanmar
Last month, when I summarized the views of Calestous Juma, professor of the practice of international development at Harvard, on the potential of genetically modified crops to improve Africa's agricultural productivity, many reader comments complained that the post was one-sided -- a valid criticism -- so today I thought I would look at this topic again.
My own thoughts on GM crops are influenced by the reality that by 2050, the world will likely have another two billion mouths to feed and face an estimated 70 percent increase in global food demand. We need another Green Revolution to increase agricultural productivity, especially in Africa, and we should pursue a variety of approaches to meet that challenge. Undoubtedly, these approaches should include better farmer training and improved fertilization and irrigation, especially given that less than 4 percent of sub-Saharan African farmland is currently irrigated, versus 40 percent in Asia. A recent report from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change proposes a thoughtful multi-pronged strategy to increase food production, including enhancing populations' resilience to climate change and raising investment in sustainable farming. Solutions should also include waste reduction: Western consumers throw away roughly a third of the food that is produced, and in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, around a third of food produced ends up rotting due to inadequate transportation and storage. However, we would be remiss if we do not include GM crops in the toolkit.