Genetic modification is the future of food security on the planet, bearing in mind its numerous advantages on crop survival and performance amidst salinity, drought, decreasing soil quality and evolving microorganism (Bornscheuer, 2018). Among the numerous strategies applied in genetic modification is an alteration of the fatty acid composition. Evidently, this strategy has little influence on crop yield, regardless of crop improvement and resilience that it causes. Due to this, its contribution towards reducing world hunger and poverty is minimal compared to other strategies which directly affect crop yield.
According to Bornscheuer (2018), there are many strategies applied towards finding a solution to the worsening world hunger. This journal argues that there are strategies which target increasing food quantity as well as those that target quality. Fatty acid alteration is a quality alteration maneuver, whose contribution towards food quantity is minimal (Baltimore et al., 2015). This does not mean that it does not contribute to food security, as it aids in crop survival amidst adverse environmental conditions, diseases, and microbiological attacks. Without its contribution, such crops would be severely affected. A good example of such a crop is the Canola, whose laureate levels are significantly increased, diversifying its applications. However, this alteration does not result in much increase in the amount of yield harvested (Cheeseman, 2016). Therefore, I think altered fatty acid composition does not have a significant impact on world hunger and poverty.
This report argues that genetically modified organisms are designed to serve specific purposes in the human body nutrition. Among the alterations listed is gene insertion for ACP thioesterase harvested from Umbellularia californica into canola plant to alter its fatty acid composition. The research found out that this alteration only benefits the farmer by increasing the fatty acid concentration and increasing crop resistance (Key, Ma & Drake, 2016). No significant impact on the amount of crop yield was observed. Although this is quite advantageous to the consumer and marketability of the crop, the yield is similar. Hence; food distribution to the hunger-stricken or contribution to the fight against hunger now and in future does not receive any significant boost. Socio-economically, the society is quite divided on the cultivation and consumption of GM foods, which negatively affects agricultural production and general food security around the globe.
According to Key, Ma & Drake (2016), fatty acid alteration could have a significant adverse impact on food security in future. If the micro-organisms evolve to conquer the modifications effected on these crops, the effect could be more devastating than it was before their modification (Key, Ma & Drake, 2016). In addition to that, it is an alteration of nature. More importantly, in the war against hunger and poverty, farmers are in search of crops that cannot only resist attacks and change environmental conditions but also substantially increase the output (Key, Ma & Drake 2016). More food needs to be produced and distributed to meet the increasing demand. About the above, it is correct to summarize that fatty acid alteration in crops does not culminate to a significant increase in production.
Fatty acid composition alteration in crops such as Canola (Brassica juncea) has various benefits to the crop. These are:
Herbicide tolerance*. Most farmers prefer to use herbicides instead of land tilling to control weeds and avoid soil erosion (Zhang, Wohlhueter, & Zhang, 2016). Broad-spectrum herbicides require enhanced crops which can resist their effects. The enhanced canola can survive very strong herbicides
High laureate canola*. The canola plant produces seeds which are rich in GE oils which can be used for both nutritional consumption as well as industrial use in the production of soaps and cosmetics (Halford et al., 2014). This modification increases the specific applications of the oil hence it can be used in a variety of industries.
Crop resistance*. The enhanced crops can withstand greater environmental changes such as temperature and humidity (Zhang, Wohlhueter, & Zhang, 2016). The genetically modified Canola is more tolerant as compared to the unaltered variety.
- Baltimore, D., Berg, P., Botchan, M., Carroll, D., Charo, R. A., Church, G., … & Greely, H. T. (2015). A prudent path forward for genomic engineering and germline gene modification. Science, 348(6230), 36-38.
- Bornscheuer, U. T. (2018). Enzymes in lipid modification. Annual review of food science and technology, 9(1).
- Cheeseman, J. (2016). Food security in the face of salinity, drought, climate change, and population growth. In Halophytes for Food Security in Dry Lands (pp. 111-123).
- Halford, N. G., Hudson, E., Gimson, A., Weightman, R., Shewry, P. R., & Tompkins, S. (2014). Safety assessment of genetically modified plants with deliberately altered composition. Plant biotechnology journal, 12(6), 651-654.
- Key, S., Ma, J. K., & Drake, P. M. (2016). Genetically modified plants and human health. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 101(6), 290-298.
- Zhang, C., Wohlhueter, R., & Zhang, H. (2016). Genetically modified foods: A critical review of their promise and problems. Food Science and Human Wellness, 5(3), 116-123.