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Checkbiotech: Biotechnology for food security and poverty alleviation
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp (IP Logged)
Date: September 09, 2005 07:26AM ; ;

Biotechnology, broadly defined, includes any technique that uses living
organisms or part of such organisms to make or modify products to improve
plants or animals or to develop microorganisms for specific use, September
2005 by Mohammad Tarequl Islam.

During the 1970s, scientists developed new method for precisely making
recombination some portions of de-oxy-ribonucleic acid (DNA); the bio
chemical material in all living cells that govern inherited characteristics
and for transferring portions of DNA from one organism to another. This
enabling technique is referred to as DNA technology or Biotechnology.
Biotechnology can significantly strengthen crop-breeding programmes and help
produce new varieties with higher yield potential and greater yield
stability. It can improve the efficiency of crop production and preventing
food shortage from occurring as demand for feed increases because of
population growth and economic development.

With the advent of gene transfer technology there is hope for achieving
higher productivity and better quality, including improved nutrition and
storage properties of food. There are also possibilities to ensure
adaptation of plants to specific environments to increase plant tolerance
for stresses, to increase pest and disease resistance and to achieve higher
prices in the market place. Genetically improved food will have to be
developed under adequate regulatory process with full public understanding.

Science and technology underpinned the economic and social gains in Asia
over the past 30 years, which in agriculture came to be known as green
revolution. Between 1970-1995 cereal production in Asia doubled, caloric
availability increased 24 per cent. Although the region's population grew by
1 billion people, overall food production increased which was achieved
largely by cultivation of high yielding varieties from plant breeding. In
the next 25 years, the population in Asia is anticipated to increase from 3
billion to 4.5 billion. The need for food is predicted to increase by about
40 per cent from the present level of 650 millions tons.

That will have to be achieved with less labour, water and arable land, since
there is no scope for increasing the cultivated land. Agricultural
biotechnology is expected to contribute significantly towards poverty
reduction and food security in Asia through increase in productivity, lower
production cost and food price and improved nutrition.

Modern plant breeding method may help to achieve productivity gains,
strengthen resistance to pest and diseases, reduce pesticides use, improve
crop tolerance for a biotic stress, improve the nutritional value and
enhance the durability of products during harvesting and storage.
Biotechnology may offer cost-effective solution to vitamin and mineral
deficiencies by developing rice varieties containing vitamin A and minerals.
Rise in productivity could increase small holder's incomes, reduce poverty,
increase food access, reduce malnutrition and improve the livelihoods of the

Agricultural biotechnology will contribute to poverty reduction and food
security if scientists can develop technologies to increase quality and
yields of food crops and the technologies are adopted by small farmers.
During the next 25 years, Asia, specially Bangladesh, India, China, Pakistan
will need a Second Green Revolution often called Bio revolution or double
green revolution. It must also increase incomes and increase access to food
by the poor.

Modern Genetics, Plant Breeding and Biotechnology used in conjunction with
other techniques can act as powerful tools in the fight against poverty and
food security. On current trends in population and food production in Asia,
there is likely to be a large gap between production and demand by 2025.

The present conventional approach will not be able to produce the desired
result within a limited time. The advantage of modern biotechnology rests on
the speed at which desired crop varieties are produced. In some cases the
desirable genetic combination of traits is simply not possible through
common breeding method. This can be done only through genetic engineering.

In Bangladesh 49 per cent people are under poverty level, so we need more
efficient biotechnology research for food security, and sustainable
development. In conclusion we can say as long as product safety,
environmental and ethical concerns are adequately addressed, biotechnology
has the potential to significantly increase the quantity and quality of the
food supply, food security and poverty alleviation for developing countries.


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