Eight hundred million of the world’s 6 billion people don’t have access to adequate nutrition. With
world population expected to peak at 7–8 billion within a generation, mostly in developing
countries, and with environmental degradation and future water shortages to consider, pressure is
on to find ways to improve food security. The question is whether GMOs offer the best prospects
of improved food security for the world’s hungry within the context of sustainable development and
Progress on a number of other fronts holds more promise than GMOs. Nobel Prize-winning
economist Amartya Sen has argued that the problem is one of food distribution, not supply. To
these, add the ongoing debate about levels of agricultural subsidies in first-world countries and
their impact on food production in developing countries, the disequilibrium in resources applied to
first-world research interests documented by Harvard-based economist Jeffrey Sachs, and
declining levels of assistance to support application of existing knowledge in the developing world.
Whilst the pursuit of global food security within the context of sustainable development is an
objective with undeniably widespread support, views on the potential contribution of GMOs are
extremely polarised, reflecting a lack of reliable information and concern about ethical, ecological,
socio-economic, legal, public health, food safety, and inter-generational equity dimensions.
There is urgent need for effective policy dialogue and regulatory frameworks that separate the
hype from the reality, and ensure that the advancement of food security and sustainable
development are truly the primary goals.
Each day our world witnesses 800 million people go hungry and 170 million children under
five years of age suffer from malnourishment. This situation is a human tragedy on a vast
scale, made even worse because it is avoidable (International Food Policy Research Institute