One basic necessity of human life is the intake of calories or eating as its more commonly known. This necessity produced forth the agricultural “revolution”, a slow process more like an evolution, that started some 12 000 years ago and also more recently the revolution around 17th–19th century that saw the use of science and industrialization to improve the yields and viability of crops. During all this time biotechnology has been used to manipulate the plants and animals but not with that name until recently. The more modern development of agriculture has been part due to the knowledge of genetical and hereditary properties and manipulation of them. This has raised many promises but also a multitude of issues both more on hand and ethical .Genetic engineering promises the ability to freely transfer and manipulate the properties of plants and animals for the benefit of humans, which actually isn’t that new of a consept. The early adopters of agriculture used their basic understanding of hereditary properties of plants and animals to breed desirable properties into them and thus increase usefulness of them. Breeding has been used pretty much throughout the agricultural history of humans and many of the plants and animals that we consume bear little resemblance to the humble origins that many of them had.
Take for examble bananas which in the wild are small green fruit full of hard seeds that doesn’t taste like modern curvy seedles yellow fruit that we find in our markets. Actually modern bananas are higly refined product of years of breeding and are specially engineered for human consumption. The big disadvantange of this is that the banana crop that we now grow is actually asexual clone with little genetic variety and could disappear withing couple decades or even faster if some kind of disese would come along. Which while sounding kind of apolyptical has already happened with the panama disese that killed the variant that was most commonly farmed prior to 1960, which acording to contempory accounts was yummier. There is actually a variant of panama disease going around that affects the Cavendish variant of bananas, which are genetically identical clones of each other.
This is an example of a situation where traditional methods of agriculture have simply driven themselves to a corner with no fast enough way out. The problem with traditional breeding techniques is that they are slow and random at best, thus providing no easy quick fix for many problems that modern crops have. The so called genetic engineering promises to provide was around and over these limitations by enabling us to engineer properties of different species together thus creating a better version of the orginal. We could have for example a banana that is disease resistant, grows anywhere, is full of nutrients and also possibly cures cancer and can be used as fuel in vehicles. The real issue here is not some mystical genes or toxins that come from the process ( and also exist only in the imanigation of those less informed), but the real threat of these genes spreading to the wild. For example we use plant viruses as gene vectors to facilate the trensfer of the genome. But the problem arises when these viruses that also exixt outside our labs transfer some genes out of our super bananas into some weed that then proceed to spread and negate any benefit that our genetically engineered bananas would have given us. Thing is that we have already messed up with many plants not indigenous to where we chose to grow them and some plants that had nothing to even do with genetic engineering and were tought of as harmless have spread out of control with methods short of flamethrowers proving inefficent at couping with the decorative plant turned weeds.
The real problem of using genetical engineering to improve our agriculture is again not some mystical gene stuff or toxins often spoken in media but the possibility of repeating the mistakes that we already have made over and over and over again with plants and animals not belonging somewhere. Which could be futher upscaled by creatures with genes from complently different species or even genes themselves spreading around.
Unfortunately we don’t have much options in improving agricuture are pretty much utilizing all arable land and even though we could procure food for 12 billion people from our current farmland we suck at distributing resources evenly and from the 7 billion people of earth around 1 billion dont have stable source of food. It is not really issue of ethics but neccesity that we use genetical engineering or whatever methods possible to increase our food surpluss and variety so we can all atleast have enough food on our tables. Really its either we use ways such as
genetic engineering to improve our foodsources or we all give up bacon(or meat in general) as it actually is one the reasons thet we dont have enough food for everybody. And everybody including me loves their bacon.
Vat grown bacon anyone.