By Miguel A. Altieri, Clara I. Nicholls
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Extra info for Agroecology And The Search For A Truly Sustainable Agriculture
The first is that hunger is due to a gap between food production and human population density or growth rate. The second is that genetic engineering is the only or best way to increase agricultural production and, thus, meet future food needs. Our objective is to challenge the notion of biotechnology as a magic bullet solution to all of agriculture’s ills, by clarifying misconceptions concerning these underlying assumptions. 1. There is no relationship between the prevalence of hunger in a given country and its population.
Thermodynamic considerations suggest they cannot; traits important to indigenous farmers (resistance to drought, food or fodder quality, maturity, competitive ability, performance on intercrops, storage quality, taste or cooking properties, compatibility with household labor conditions, etc) could be traded for transgenic qualities which may not be important to farmers (Jordan, 2001). Under this scenario risk will increase and farmers will lose their ability to adapt to changing biophysical environments and produce relatively stable yields with a minimum of external inputs while supporting their communities’ food security (Altieri, 2003).
Furthermore, the widespread use of homogeneous transgenic varieties will unavoidably lead to «genetic erosion,» as the local varieties used by thousands of farmers in the developing world are replaced by the new seeds (Robinson, l996). A. Altieri & P. Rosset - Ten Reasons Why Biotechnology Will Not Help the Developing World. z The use of herbicide resistant crops undermines the possibilities of crop diversification, thus, reducing agrobiodiversity in time and space (Altieri, l994). z The potential transfer through gene flow of genes from herbicide resistant crops to wild or semidomesticated relatives can lead to the creation of superweeds (Lutman, l999).