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Genomics and Biology. Biotechnology and genomics.
Biotechnology and food Security


The official definition of food security as adopted at the World Food Summit of 1996 states: “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

The major thrust of food security is to bring about a significant increase in agricultural production in a sustainable way and to achieve a substantial improvement in people’s entitlement to adequate food and culturally appropriate food supplies. The underlying assumption is that the means of increasing food availability in many countries exist, but are not being realized because of a range of constraints. In identifying and resolving these constraints, it is necessary to find sustainable ways of improving and reducing year-to-year variability in food production and open the way for broader food access.

The causes of food insecurity involve a complex interplay of economic, social, political and technical issues. The issue for some communities is being able to produce sufficient food. For others, lack of money to purchase a wider selection of foods is the problem. Food insecurity and poverty are strongly correlated. The Swedish International Cooperation Agency (SIDA) defines poverty as a three-fold deficiency: a lack of security, ability and opportunity. Poverty is the main cause of food insecurity and hunger Food insecurity and malnutrition impair people’s ability to develop skills and reduce their productivity. A lag in farm productivity is closely associated with rural poverty and hunger. Food insecurity nevertheless is a reality experienced by the vulnerable in all societies and in all countries, developed and developing.

In developed countries, the problem of food security is often a reflection of affordability and accessibility through conventional channels. Food security for the rural poor in developing countries is about producing or securing enough to feed one’s household and being able to maintain that level of production year after year..

The challenges to food security As per an estimate, in developing countries, around 800 million people are undernourished, of which a significant proportion live on less than US$1 per day, despite a more than 50% decline in world food prices over the past years. Global food production has soared, making a variety of foods available to all consumers. Although the decline in food prices in developed countries has benefited the poor who spend a considerable share of their income on food, this trend has not had much impact on the majority in the developing world, with sub-Saharan Africa painting the gloomiest picture.

Besides, agricultural output has also remained stagnant for a considerable period of time or has just managed to attain a negligible growth. It is in this scenario that finding solutions to declining crop yields requires an effort that will improve the assets on which agriculture relies; namely, soils, water and biodiversity. Transforming the agricultural systems of rural farmers by introducing new technologies including biotechnologies tools and techniques that integrate agro-ecological processes in food production, while minimizing adverse effects to the environment, is key to sustainable agriculture. In addition, increases in crop yield must be met with the use of locally available low-cost technologies and minimum inputs without causing damage to the environment.

It is in this background that Biotechnology can come as a rescue for addressing international food problem. Introduction of high yielding GM crops, efficient techniques such as gene transfer, tissue culture etc. are intended to help scientists achieve the results with minimum social and economic costs.
 

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