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The Problem: Environmental degradation in the developing world impacts political and social instability Rwanda, 1994 -Population explosion -Shortage of.

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Presentation on theme: "The Problem: Environmental degradation in the developing world impacts political and social instability Rwanda, 1994 -Population explosion -Shortage of."— Presentation transcript:

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2 The Problem: Environmental degradation in the developing world impacts political and social instability Rwanda, Population explosion -Shortage of cultivatable land -Heavy deforestation -Poor soil conservation  Food production shortage  Food-energy deprivation coincides with ethnic strife  Hutu refugees have devastating environmental, social, and political impact on the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Gasana 2002)

3 Source: (Gasana 2002)

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5 The Solution: Sustainable Agriculture We must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Three Goals: - Environmental health - Economic Profitability - Social and Economic Equity Requires: - Stewardship of both natural and human resources - Interdisciplinary efforts in research and education - Participation of farmers, farmworkers, consumers, policymakers, etc. (University of California 1997)

6 Agricultural Biotechnology: Potential Component of a Sustainable System? Understanding Agricultural Biotechnology HT crops – herbicide tolerant varieties genetically engineered to resist certain weed killers. Bt corn – varieties engineered to be resistant to certain insects by expressing a natural toxin in plant cell tissues. Source: (Benbrook 2002)

7 Does agricultural biotechnology fulfill the goals of sustainability? Goal #1: Environmental Health Potential Benefits  HT crops may reduce herbicide use  Roundup is one of the safest herbicides for mammals  Roundup-Ready soybeans increase adoption of no-tillage planting systems, which reduces soil erosion  Bt corn may reduce pesticide use  Bt toxins safer than conventional insecticides for mammals Risks  HT crops actually increase herbicide use  Roundup decreases nitrogen fixation  Genetically modified plants may be more vulnerable to certain diseases and insects  Increased “selection pressure” increases possibility of new genetically resistant pest population  Increased chance of harm to non- target species  Gene flow may yield new virus resistant weeds  Human health risks  Reduced crop diversity (Thrupp 1997) (Benbrook 2002)

8 Does agricultural biotechnology fulfill the goals of sustainability? Goal #2: Economic Profitability Potential Benefits  There is little evidence to suggest that biotechnology could be implemented cost efficiently in the developing world. Risks  Developing countries lack the resources to support GMO’s: - high chemical inputs - market factors  The high variation in crop yields produced by genetic modification hurts subsistence farmers the most (Gould and Cohen 1999) (Rosset 2000)

9 Does agricultural biotechnology fulfill the goals of sustainability? Goal #3: Social and Economic Equity Potential Benefits  Greater food security  Increased social and political stability Risks  Concentration of the tools of biotechnology in the hands of a few powerful corporations may restrict market access and increase economic disparities (NPR 2000)  Small farmers lack bargaining power (Rosset 2000)

10 Lessons from the Green Revolution: Agricultural trends in the Developing World India – adoption of high yield seeds increased fertilizer use per acre by six-fold. So far, 6% of agricultural land has been rendered useless. Philippines – During the 1980’s, rice yield increased by 13%, fertilizer use by 21% following the adoption of high-yield seeds.  High volumes of fertilizer causes long-term soil degradation followed by decreased yields

11 Sustainable Alternative: Agroecology “Alternative farmers often produce high per acre yields with significant reductions in costs per unit of crop harvests.” National Research Council Crop Rotation - suppresses certain pests - replenishes soil nutrients Soil covers - may attract good insects, repel bad insects - holds soil nutrients in place - increases water infiltration and water holding capacity of soil Tillage reduction - decreases erosion Irrigation management - reduces run-off Source: (Sanet 2000)

12 Agroecology in the Developing World Brazil – Green Manures India – Water-Salt management Kenya – Push-Pull technique Cuba – Small-farm model

13 Conclusion An agroecological approach which utilizes the natural resources already present in a given area is the most efficient long-term approach to the problem of resource management.

14 Works Cited Benbrook, Charles M Case Statement for the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology Meeting: Environmental Savior or Saboteur? Debating the Impacts of Genetic Engineering. Gasana, James Remember Rwanda? World Watch. 15(5): Gould and Cohen Sustainable Use of Genetically Modified Crops in Developing Countries. Pages in G.J. Perseley and M.M. Lantin, Editors. Agricultural Biotechnology and the Poor. The World Bank, Washington D.C. John Innes Centre Genetically Modified Crops and the Developing World. [Internet] (October 20, 2002).http://jic.bbsrc.ac.uk/exhibitions/bio-future/develop.htm Juma and Konde Industrial Application for Biotechnology: Opportunities for Developing Countries. Environment. 44(6): NPR Promise and Pitfalls of Using Genetically Modified Crops in Developing Countries? [Internet] (October 20, 2002).http://www.biotech-info.net/NPR_debate.html Rosset, P., J. Collins, and F.M. Lappe Lessons from the Green Revolution. Tikkun Magazine. 15(2):52-60.

15 Works Cited, cont’d SANET Push-Pull Biocontrol Versus Bt Corn – an African Example. [Internet] (October 17, 2002). Thrupp, Lori Ann Agrobiodiversity Loss: Conflicts and Effects. [Internet] (Ocober 20, 2002). University of California What is Sustainable Agriculture? [Internet] (October 20, 2002). Wilkinson, Ray Living on the Edge. Refugees. (127): 6-13.


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