Economic Impact, Ethics  & Biotech Innovators 


Many people have contributed to the study of flood-tolerant crops and because of their contributions this biotechnology has made considerable advances in the last four years. There have been teams around the world experimenting science since 1986.10 Some of those groups include the National Agricultural Research Center for Western Region from Japan, Julia Bailey-Serres from the University of California Riverside and the colleague David Mackill, senior scientist at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, and Michael Holdsworth at the University of Nottingham(who also collaborated with Julia Bailey-Serres. They have made many innovations such as creating and testing flood-tolerant rice, and identifying the mechanism that allows some plants to be flood-tolerant. However the innovation that really made an economic impact happens to be the flood-tolerant rice.4


If you live in a city or suburban area you may not walk outside and see miles of crops, but no matter where you live this technology has most likely impacted you. In many places flooding can spread more than 12,000,000 acres because of their vast flatlands.16 This land is great for farming but is it worth the risk? For many,yes. People all around the world take the risk and plant crops on these lands because even though there is the ever-looming threat of floods, the threat of poverty is looming as well. When farmers choose their land they look for good soil for growing certain crops that are somewhat resistant to flooding. However until now there where no completely resistant crops. Now there are resistant types of rice and wheat that basically protect farmers from poverty! These crops have been genetically engineered to withstand floods but there is a side-affect that is actually beneficial, the crops can also withstand droughts.8

"People [in the United States] think, well, if I don't have enough rice, I'll go to the store," said Ronald, a professor of plant pathology at UC-Davis. "That's not the situation in these villages. They're mostly subsistence farmers. They don't have cars." With all of the flooding that goes on yearly enough rice is lost in some communities to feed 30 million people. And, like the the professor said , they can't just run to the nearest Raley's and pick up a pound of rice. Plus, with rice about $1.50 a pound that means those communities are not only going hungry but loosing about $45,000,000 ,total, a year. With many of the flood-tolerant crop problems now solved and these strains of rice becoming more openly available you think many scientists work would finally be done, but it's not. Just like the University of California-Davis professor Pamela Ronald says, "I feel a great sense of gratitude that I was able to contribute in this way," she said. "But the farmers have asked us, 'Can you develop varieties that are drought tolerant, salt tolerant? Can you develop varieties that are insect resistant?' There are always more things to work on."3

The above statement just goes to show why we have a NSF, or National Science Foundation. It funds and supports scientific research centers/projects throughout our country, receiving about 40,000 proposals each year.12

In conclusion, this biotechnology's advancements have not only made a huge, positive economic impact but has improved the lives of millions and will continue to do so.


Ethics have become a big part of genetically modifying food. Scientists must first deal with the ethics of modifying food before they are able to actually begin the process. The decision of what to buy is not only a problem at restaurants anymore but as well as when you are in the grocery store you may now choose to buy vegetables in a can, fresh, pesticide free, Omega-3 enhanced, etc. Is it right to consume genetically enhanced or altered produce, is it practically the same as eating vegetables that have been taking steroids? Most of the decisions have been left up to the consumer, what they want to eat, with what enhancements or none at all. However science seeks to make produce better and more versatile; thus the creation of flood tolerant crops. The only crop released to the public as of now is flood-tolerant rice which has received minor complaints of an odd taste. Was it the consumers fault for not expecting a bizarre taste or the scientists for releasing it. Was it right to even release the goods to the public in the first place? All-in-all ethics will always be questions throughout biotechnology and the question of who is right and who is wrong will always remain, but no matter where this innovative technology goes it will benefit the lives of millions.



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