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Oral Test 2011

Biotechnology and genetic modification are commonly used interchangeably. Genetic Modification is a special set of technologies that alter the genetic makeup of organisms such as animals, plants, or bacteria. Biotechnology, as a more general term, refers to using organisms or their component such as enzymes to make products that include wine, cheese, beer and yogurt. GM products also known as "genetically-engineered or transgenic products" include medicines and vaccines, food, and food ingredients, feeds and fibers.

GM is a trait-based technology. Researchers locate genes for their important traits- such as those conferring insect resistance or desired nutrients. For instance, in 2006, 252 million acres of transgenic crops were planted in 22 countries by 10.3 million farmers. The majority of these crops were insect-resistant soybeans, corn, cotton, canola and alfalfa. Other crops grown commercially or field-tested are a sweet potato resistant to a virus that could decimate most of the African harvest, rice with increased iron and vitamins components that may alleviate chronic malnutrition in Asian countries, and a variety of plants able to survive weather extremes.

Although GM foods are scientifically efficient and economically advantageous for some developed nations, they pose some risks in Sub-Saharan Africa. So, questioning its viability Ms. Anna Antwe, a delegate from Action Aid, a Non-Governmental Organization said "it is claimed that GM technologies will increase food production, reduce environmental degradation, provide more nutritious food and promote sustainable agriculture and food security. However, research conducted on the viability of this position has shown otherwise. In fact, research showed that poor farmers using GM seeds are not able to pay royalties, meet the cost of high inputs needed for use with those seeds and incur high indebtedness on the process..."

Furthermore, Ms. said, "trade liberalization is being forced on developing countries, whilst the developed nations have taken a projectionist approach. Huge subsidies in developed countries result in 'dumping' of agricultural produce into world markets and in developing nations, depresses world commodity prices, displaces export in developing countries and undermines domestic production as local producers are unable to compete."

Adapted from the Net


To alter: to change
To alleviate: to diminish, to decrease
Royalties: rights paid to an author
Dumping: the fact of making a product widely available (in a market).

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