Agricultural innovation raises thorny ethical questions about overconsumption in the western world

Image Credit: Science Matters

Scientists at the Department of Agrobiotechnology research facility in the Vienna University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Tulln, Austria, are tracking about 80 varieties of grains in outdoor plots and greenhouses, in some cases right down to the molecular DNA.

The work matters because about a billion people are malnourished …. ensuring there is enough food for the rapidly growing global population …. is a big challenge, says plant ecologist Hermann Bürstmayr ….

The latest advances in genetic technology have revived fundamental ethical debates about human manipulation of genetic material in plants and animals ….


When you view the question of secure food supplies at the global level over time, a clear picture emerges from the observed patterns, says Karlheinz Erb, a social ecologist at the University of Vienna

Related article:  Podcast: Edible cotton—how genetic engineering turns toxic seeds into nutritious food

“When food production becomes more efficient, the increasing efficiency is over-compensated by increasing consumption.”


Erb believes addressing issues around global food solely by steering the production side is a false approach. “We have to look at the consumption side. We can’t combat malnutrition by forever producing more.”

Simply put, the Global North has an overconsumption and waste problem, which is leading to heart disease, obesity and diabetes — also a form of malnutrition. Eliminating global hunger requires a recognition of that imbalance ….

Read full, original article: Do we really need next-gen genetically modified foods to feed the world?

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