What are the benefits of GM crops?
Date: Thursday, February 16 2006
What are the benefits of GM crops and what can they do?
Developing varieties of crop, vegetable and fruit plants to meet the needs of the agri-food chain and consumers.
Needs related to crop plants can be broken down into two major types, farmer needs (these relate to the growing and agronomic characteristics of a plant) and user needs (these concern the quality and range of derived products from the harvested product).
The plant breeder develops cultivars to meet both sets of needs and, what is not well recognised is that, the final consumer benefits from improvements in both agronomic and quality characteristics.
Meeting the needs of the farmer results in a stable supply of consistently high quality product –stability in production for citizens in the developed world means a stable and affordable price. In lesser developed countries, meeting the agronomic needs may mean the difference between a harvest and no harvest at all. It is evident that meeting farmers’ agronomic needs benefits all humankind.
Stable production also benefits food processors, and it is here that the second type of need is met. Processors and users demand all sorts of quality characteristics from crop plants, dependent on their end product. Healthier oils, increased levels of vitamins, proteins and amino acids are examples. While these primarily benefit consumers in the developed world, some, such as increased levels of essential vitamins and other nutrients, also benefit those in the developing world.