Lecture 1 - GM Food Controversy - Gray Flashcards Preview

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How many people are without sufficient food?



Why are the numbers dying from malnutrition increasing?

Increasing population


What other causes of death are linked to malnutrition?

Measles, death in childbirth


Which two men enabled the population to grow?

Fritz Haber and Norman Borlaug


What did Haber do?

Developed the Haber process - able to fix nitrogen from the air into fertilizers for plants in form of ammonia or urea.


What did Borlaug do?

Bred plants that were high yielding, but needed excessive nitrogen. Therefore, it worked in conjunction with Haber's work.


What was the Green Revolution?

Set of research technology transfer initiatives that increased agri production worldwide. Spearheaded by Borlaug, Africa missed out on it.


Which cont has the lowest predicted birth rate?



What else would help increase food (other than GM crops)?

Better food distribution, better politics, better infrastructure.


Why did the govt in South Africa refuse GM maize from USA when they were hit with drought, despite the USA eating it fine?

1. Claimed food was poisonous
2. If seed got planted and grown, their crop exports are no longer GM-free, this would affect trade with EU market.


What was the solution to GM maize in S.A?

Grind up maize to form cornmeal - cannot be planted.


What is the ISAAA?

International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications


Stats on GM crops:

21 years of increases in global area of biotech until 2016.
18mil farmers grew GM crops, many of whom are poor. Almost 100% said they would plant again after first experience.


What benefits do GM crops have? (in 2016)

1. Yield gain: Losing less to insects, weeds etc.
2. Income gain to farmers: Many are poor, GM crops are making billions of dollars. Most of this goes to farmers.
3. Environmental Quotient: 500million kg decrease in pesticides.
4. Carbon footprint: Less spraying = less tractor use etc. Significant decrease - 18mil car equivalent.


Which 3 GM crops approved for use in UK?

Tomatoes, soya, maize. GM crops cannot be GROWN in UK, but 20% of imported cattle food has GM-derived soya/maize,


Why is UK so against GM?

BSE - mad cow disease.
Causes vCJD in humans, eventually death. 4mil cattle killed. 1990 - govt said beef was safe, 8 years later 32 people had died.
Further media scares - Pusztai affair.
Prince Charles wrote about the dangers of GM.
Farmland in UK is also where we live, compared to USA where it is separate.


Give an example of a super-weed that has been bred by GM crops

Palmer amaranth - outcompetes cotton for light, moisture, soil nutrients. Glyphosate-resistant amaranth developed and spread, farmers lost fields to it.
GM crops promotes liberal use of herbicides.


Arguments against GMOs are intuitively appealing - why?

'Psychological essentialism' - we think of DNA as an organism's essence, ie the core that determines its identity. E.g people think that a fish gene in a tomato would make the tomato taste of fish.
Disgust affects people's attitudes, and people view GM as contamination.


How can we stop GM rumours spreading?

Education at a young age