Article

Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 83, Issue 1, pp 5-19

Can the world afford to ignore biotechnology solutions that address food insecurity?

  • Judit BermanAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
  • , Changfu ZhuAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
  • , Eduard Pérez-MassotAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
  • , Gemma ArjóAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, Institut de Recerca Biomèdica de Lleida (IRBLleida), University of Lleida
  • , Uxue Zorrilla-LópezAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
  • , Gemma MasipAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
  • , Raviraj BanakarAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
  • , Georgina SanahujaAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
  • , Gemma FarréAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
    • , Bruna MiralpeixAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
    • , Chao BaiAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
    • , Evangelia VamvakaAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
    • , Maite SabalzaAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
    • , Richard M. TwymanAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick
    • , Ludovic BassiéAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
    • , Teresa CapellAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
    • , Paul ChristouAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio CenterInstitució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats Email author 

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Abstract

Genetically engineered (GE) crops can be used as part of a combined strategy to address food insecurity, which is defined as a lack of sustainable access to safe and nutritious food. In this article, we discuss the causes and consequences of food insecurity in the developing world, and the indirect economic impact on industrialized countries. We dissect the healthcare costs and lost productivity caused by food insecurity, and evaluate the relative merits of different intervention programs including supplementation, fortification and the deployment of GE crops with higher yields and enhanced nutritional properties. We provide clear evidence for the numerous potential benefits of GE crops, particularly for small-scale and subsistence farmers. GE crops with enhanced yields and nutritional properties constitute a vital component of any comprehensive strategy to tackle poverty, hunger and malnutrition in developing countries and thus reduce the global negative economic effects of food insecurity.

Keywords

Genetically engineered crops Food insecurity Nutritionally enriched crops Economic impact