TEN THOUSAND YEARS AGO, humans learned how to farm. It was an epochal invention that made possible settled life, cities, craft specialization, writing, organized religion, architecture, mathematics. science. Now humanity stands on the brink of a second agricultural revolution potentially as great as the one that occurred when our ancestors gave up hunter-gatherer way of life and settled down as farmers. Scientists and engineers are poised to genetically modify organisms to increase the yield, nutrition, freshness, and pest resistance of food plants and animals, and perhaps even to diminish the use of artificial fertilizers (and fossil fuels) by supplementing biotic nitrogen-fixation systems. Other possible benefits of genetically modified (GM) organisms include improved use of marginalized land—saving wild areas from the plow—and abundant production of vaccines and pharmaceuticals. possibly eliminating diseases such as cholera, hepatitis B, and malaria. The promise is great. But as always with the products of human artifice, not without attendant dangers.
09 JUN 2011 by ideonexus