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Global rice production has decreased due to drought, climate change, and a dwindling amount of land available for rice paddy farming.  Many scientists now believe that using genetically modified rice is the only way to continue current levels of rice production in this new scenario. 

Rice

Rice

Rice is the staple foodof approximately three billion people around the world.  Unfortunately, it is dependant on a steady water supply.  It is becoming more and more difficult to provide that water due to the fact that 70 percent of the rice producing lands are currently in or are descending to drought-like conditions.   

Biotechnology can be used to make rice plants that need fewer nutrients, tolerate dry conditions, and are resistant to insects and disease. 

The Cosmic Perspective

Biotechnology tends to scare people.  Perhaps it is because some people think that we are playing God, or that there is an inherent risk with changing something’s core genetics.  But, I fear that we are quickly running out of options.  Obviously we do not want to constantly expand over further expanses of land for use for farming.  But we must continue to feed the billions of people on this planet.  Biotechnology is not an unfounded, untested science.  It is a tool, and like all tools, it has the power to do amazing good, and amazing evil.  A knife can be a wonderful device.  It has a plethora uses that have helped us throughout history.  It is good for cutting tough materials, it can be used for slicing meats for food, etc.  But it can also be used for hurting other people.  But, the tool itself is not evil, it is the intentions and actions of the people who wield it.

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The Chinese government declared that it will increase the development of genetically modified crops as it faces the monumental challenge of  feeding 1.3 billion people due to shrinking arable land and climate change.

How scientists create genetically modified organisms.

How scientists create genetically modified organisms.

Newly-approved plans aim to cultivate high-yielding and pest-resistant genetically modified species.  It gave no details on which crops should be developed, but it is likely that the plans call for focus on easily modified and high nutrition foods like corn and rice, the latter already being a staple food in Asia. 

Due to climate change and less land to grow large quantities of the foods, production has diminished while the population continues to rise.  Chinese leaders said that the plan was, “of strategic significance in the country’s drive to make its agricultural sector more efficient and competitive internationally.” 

The plan aims to keep annual grain output above 500 million tons by 2010 and increase production to more than 540 million tons each year by 2020.  China has become a major producer of genetically modified cotton and vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes, but it has yet to begin large-scale production of genetically modified rice, corn and soybeans.  If China wants to support its already overgrown population, I feel that this is the only way to do so.  Urbanization, global warming, and the exponentially increasing population have forced their hand, so to say (I am a proponent of using this technology).

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