Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
which means smaller amounts of pollution, better resource
conservation, and more land available for wildlife preserva-
tion (higher yields per acre means less land per calorie pro-
duced). As a headline from an article in The Economist reads,
“Frankenfoods reduce global warming.” GMOs additionally
make no-till agriculture more feasible, thereby reducing soil
erosion and sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. From
the previous section we saw that—although GM technologies
often increase yield—even if GM crops have lower yields they
would be accepted by farmers if they are more efficient, and
more efficient means fewer inputs, fewer resources, and less
land used to produce food.
GMOs in agriculture have focused on lowering the cost
of agricultural production, rather than social problems like
reducing water pollution from fertilizers. The reason is clear.
Corporations operate on money borrowed from investors, so
they must make sure all their activities are devoted to pay-
ing back those investors. If investors wanted that money to
help clean America's lakes and rivers, they would donate it to
a nonprofit organization instead of buying corporate stocks.
But they didn't, and so we should not expect Monsanto to try
to save the world, but only generate products that other people
will pay for.
The presence of avian influenza and the world's huge popu-
lations of chickens—especially those raised outdoors, where
they come into contact with feces of other wild birds—presents
a serious health threat. Scientists have developed a GM chicken
that is immune to and does not spread the deadly virus to other
chickens. Because such a virus can spread quickly around the
world, one can only imagine how many lives such a chicken
could save.
There are endless other ways to achieve public goods
through genetic engineering, and we haven't even mentioned
the GM plants and animals used to produce human organs
and pharmaceuticals. The reason GMOs tend to be associated
largely with corporations is that funding for biotechnology
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