The above topic has been talked about by all the major stakeholders from; politicians, academicians, researchers, policy makers, farmers, and many others. It is a topic that affects all of us in one way or the other.
Where do we stand
WORLD POVERTY AND HUNGER FACT SHEET.
1.1 billion people – 1 in 5 – live on less than $1 a day. The extremely poor suffer from hunger and malnutrition, are unable to afford essential medicines, clean water and sanitation, live in unsafe homes, do not have the time or money for education, and are politically and socially excluded from their societies.
There are over 140 million people in sub-Saharan Africa living in poverty today despite a slight decline in the poverty rate.
Moreover, within developing countries, the poor have higher child and maternal mortality rates, are less educated, and less likely to have health care.
Extreme poverty is inextricably linked to chronic hunger: 800 million people in poor countries do not have enough food to meet their basic caloric needs.
Chronic hunger leads to undernourishment, vitamin and
mineral deficiencies, physical and mental disabilities, weakness, and starvation. It leaves people vulnerable to illness and compounds diseases that should be survivable.
Hunger’s victims are often the most vulnerable: 6 million children die and 161 million suffer from chronic malnutrition
From the above facts from FAO it can be seen that poverty, hunger, malnutrition and diseases are intertwined . One leads to the other. In the same way, the solution being sought for the above problems should seek to solve the above problems together.
There is need for extension and advisory services aimed at passing on technology and innovative methods of farming that are aimed at increasing land under farming and the yield thereof. This will ultimately lead to more income to farmers. And, help to alleviate hunger and reduce poverty.
The safe and responsible application of biotechnology and genetic engineering technology can also help solve the malnutrition problem that highly affects the poor who do not have access to a variety of food. This can be done by bio-fortifying the staple food used by these people with nutrient from which they suffer malnutrition from.
Biotechnology also can help alleviate poverty by development of higher yielding crop varieties. High yield means higher incomes to the farmers. Higher yield and expansion of land under agriculture can help to reduce unemployment directly and indirectly.
In environmental pollution which directly affects health, biotechnology that is GM technology can assist. For example, through development of bacteria , which can clean oil spills and breakdown heavy metals or indirectly through development of crops that require less/no use of agrichemicals that highly contribute to soil, water and air pollution.
However; in the application of the above technology, biosafety i.e. safety to both human and the environment should be ensured.
Biotechnology is not a magic bullet but is part of the solution that encompasses a wider spectrum. With this I rest my case.