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Sustainability 2017, 9(4), 580;

A World without Hunger: Organic or GM Crops?

Department of Agricultural Economics, Ghent University, Ghent B-9000, Belgium
Economics and Rural Development, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, University of Liège, Liège 4000, Belgium
Department of Geography, Ghent University, Ghent B-9000, Belgium
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Iain Gordon
Received: 2 February 2017 / Revised: 10 March 2017 / Accepted: 5 April 2017 / Published: 11 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Farming and Gene Manipulation)
Full-Text   |   PDF [934 KB, uploaded 11 April 2017]   |  


It has been estimated that the world population will increase to 9.2 billion by 2050; supplying the growing population with food will require a significant increase in agricultural production. A number of agricultural and ecological scientists believe that a large-scale shift to organic farming (OF) would not only increase the world’s food supply, but might be the only way to eradicate hunger sustainably. Nevertheless, OF has recently come under new scrutiny, not just from critics who fear that a large-scale shift in this direction would cause billions to starve but also from farmers and development agencies who question whether such a shift could improve food security. Meanwhile, the use of genetically modified (GM) crops is growing around the world, leading to possible opportunities to combat food insecurity and hunger. However, the development of GM crops has been a matter of considerable interest and worldwide public controversy. So far, no one has comprehensively analyzed whether a widespread shift to OF or GM would be the sole solution for both food security and safety. Using a literature review from databases of peer-reviewed scientific publications, books, and official publications, this study aims to address this issue. Results indicate that OF and GM, to different extents, are able to ensure food security and safety. In developed countries, given that there are relatively few farmers and that their productivity, even without GMOs, is relatively high, OF could be more a viable option. However, OF is significantly less efficient in land-use terms and may lead to more land being used for agriculture due to its lower yield. In developing countries, where many small-scale farmers have low agricultural productivity and limited access to agricultural technologies and information, an approach with both GM and OF might be a more realistic approach to ensure food security and safety. View Full-Text
Keywords: agricultural sustainability; co-existence; small-scale farmers; food security; food safety agricultural sustainability; co-existence; small-scale farmers; food security; food safety

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Taheri, F.; Azadi, H.; D’Haese, M. A World without Hunger: Organic or GM Crops? Sustainability 2017, 9, 580.

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