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The Price of Rice

Generally, the development of agricultural science and technology cannot ensure food security.

          Another body, another grave, another cement placard marking the place where the skeletal remains of a starved child lies; this is what the 21st century looks like despite the monumental achievements that agricultural science and technology have made. It seems that years of progress have not been able to stop the icy claws of the Grim Reaper from taking people into its vice-like grip. Death by hunger is still as imminent as it ever was.

            Hunger can essentially be defined as a craving or urgent need for food or a specific nutrient (“Hunger”). People, both young and old, die from hunger every day. A news article in the Philippine Star stated that, “more than 24,000 children die for reasons of poverty, diseases, and hunger” (2012). It is clear that no country is safe from the starvation of its citizens, but it is the third world countries that share the brunt of this problem, like in the Philippines where a study shows that at least 50% of Filipino pre-school children are malnourished (Sunico 1983). The only ones spared from the uncomfortable demise of starvation are the people who are secured “food-wise”.

            Food security essentially includes physical and economic access to nutritional food. Built on three pillars, namely food availability, food access, and food use, those within the bracket of food security have a consistent and sufficient amount of available food, sufficient resources to obtain nutritional food, and adequate knowledge regarding basic health and nutrition (“Food Security”). Food security is a complex concept that centers on many debates about the true cause of starvation. Many argue that “widespread undernutrition is attributed to the multiple factors that make it impossible to grow or buy enough food to feed a population” (Reed 1980). But in the 21st century, where genetically enhanced crops are grown in Petri dishes and food is harvested by giant, three-armed, truck-like machines, hunger isn’t dictated by the lack of food.

            Agricultural science and technology have, in many ways, changed the way people grow and manufacture food. Plants are now essentially enhanced with more vitamins and minerals that could create a metaphorical superhero. Bananas enhanced with vaccines that protect against infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, a complete nutritional breakfast created in seconds from colored powder and water, and cows that are genetically modified to resist against mad cow disease, there is no doubt that science and technology has given humans the means to feed the entire world (“Genetically Modified”). The only problem is that the world cannot be fed by machines and genetically modified food alone.

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