The oil-rich Gulf States rely heavily on food imports since they are not well endowed with fertile farmlands following their desert climatic conditions. Since time immemorial, the people of these states have faced unprecedented difficulty in guaranteed sustainable food security. With food riots breaking out in these countries with a constant frequency, coupled with increasing global prices for food items, the governments pay particular attention in the agricultural sector to provide adequate food for its citizens, especially the high percentage of the impoverished society.
The staggering levels of food imports- over 58% of total imports- hinders the regimes’ competency to provide for an ever increasing population, expected to reach approximately 60 million by 2030. It is, therefore, logical for new ways to be developed, so as to offer that burgeoning population enough produce found in these arid lands. The scientific community recognized this challenge a long time ago, developing new strains of plants and animals, which are designed to thrive in these karst conditions. Biotechnology is the utilization of science and engineering endeavors that manipulate living organisms beyond normally accepted breeding barriers.
They involve whole organisms or their components such as molecules, cells, tissues, and organs, which were previously redundant being changed to offer superior offspring that are feasible for sustainable food security. The key applications for this activity include DNA profiling, DNA cloning, trans-genesis, stem cells and tissue engineering as well as xenotransplantation.
The domain of biotechnology is crucial to achieving human needs and demands in the fields of medicine, agriculture, forensics, bioremediation, biocontrol and biosecurity. Also, biotechnology is classified into four principle categories, which include agricultural (green), environmental (blue), industrial (white) and biomedical (red).
Biotechnology In The Gulf States
According to Tramper and Zhu, the modern medicine utilizes many products of biotechnological processes through diagnostic and therapeutically used antibodies, genetic testing, analysis kits and infertility services to increase the quality and relevance of life among Gulf state members (32). The advancement of these procedures in genetic engineering has led to a proliferation of necessary vaccines against canine Lyme disease, whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus and influenza. They have significantly limited these scourges, leading to a healthy population that is productive, thus increasing aggregate national output for their economies. The diminishing incidences of these diseases reduce the total health costs incurred by their respective governments, thus providing surplus funds for actual development of other crucial sectors such as infrastructure and manufacturing, which in turn contribute to reducing the trade balances deficit.
The impact of research has been consistently implemented in the production of food for national consumption. The Gulf States have managed to increase successively crop yields each harvest. The good news is that excellence of research endeavors has led to diminished crop vulnerability, especially due to harsh environmental conditions prevalent in their territories. In the animal breeding examination, biotechnology has continued to elevate the quality of beef and dairy products. The cattle kept by nomadic communities produce a better quality and output of milk as compared to those kept two decades ago.
According to Glick, Terry and Cheryl, Rinderpest disease, which decimated animals in the past, has been obliterated due to the application of biotechnology initiatives such as vaccines for the same (47-54). It is concurrently undergoing experiments to eradicate foot and mouth disease, where the confidence is high, meaning they will manage to increase the production of safe beef, providing the valuable calcium supplements to the populations of these regions. In the flock of birds, the scientific endeavors are proving successful in the management of the spread of disease among them too. González, Angel et al. deduced that animal reproductive cloning of Royana, a male lamb, birthed through two different procedures proved successful endeavors within the region (37). Transgenic goats were also created with the ability to secret the human coagulation factor in their milk, which limits hemophilia B disease in humans as well a deep vein thrombosis in people.
Conferring to Chassy, one of the most renowned institutions in current biotechnological endeavors is the Pasteur Institute, based in Iran (2). It is an acclaimed pioneer, particularly in molecular biotechnology-genetic engineering, which culminates in positive implication in the dispersion of water-borne diseases in humans as well as efficient bio-pharmacy and regenerative medicines available to the public domain. These products are consumed globally, hence creating an inflow of foreign exchange through reputable exports of these biotechnology products. Private companies are also putting up their institutions in the Gulf states, increasing the degree of knowledge in the region. Whenever these think tanks collaborate with common goals, they produce marvelous wonders, integral to the development of the society. For instance, scholars have prospered in the synthesis and manufacture of this drug CinnoVex and it was launched in other countries, proving popular with annual sales revenues of nearly $20 million.
The next generation of scientists will have amazing data at their disposal, leading to better comprehension of modern biotechnology throughout the universe. It will result in collaboration between advanced states and their impoverished counterparts, which will be imperative for improving the standard of living in arid regions. Large swaths of arid lands could be smartly irrigated which will address the rural to urban tendencies, and globally reduce even the illegal immigration problems currently experienced in these areas. They could begin new lives as self-employed farmers instead of risking all manner of perils in the search for employment in foreign lands. The investment in this field will obviously escalate due to the growing number of interested companies to produce new agricultural seed varieties and pest control systems that limit pollution, which is a major challenge facing the development of synthetic compounds for agricultural or horticultural applications.
It is, therefore, crucial for subsequent regimes to value the importance of these research endeavors and fund them excessively to curtail hunger and famine in the current world.
- Chassy, Bruce M. “Sustainable improvement of agricultural yields through the application of modern biotechnology.” Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society. Vol. 248. 1155 16th St, Nw, Washington, Dc 20036 Amer Chemical Soc, 2014. 2
- Glick, Bernard R., Terry L. Delovitch, and Cheryl L. Patten. “Medical Biotechnology.” American Society of Microbiology, 2014. 45-69
- González, Angel, et al. “Biotechnology Literacy: Much More than a Gene Story.” International Journal of Science In Society 4 (2013): 27-35.
- Qaim, Matin, Anatole F. Krattiger, and Joachim Von Braun, eds. “Agricultural Biotechnology in Developing Countries: Towards Optimizing the Benefits for the Poor.” Springer Science & Business Media, 2013.2-3
- Tramper, Johannes, and Yang Zhu. “Modern Biotechnology: Food for Discussion!.” Modern Biotechnology. Wageningen Academic Publishers, 2011. 29-48.