Source : ICT at a glance – Indonesia, The World Bank Report, 2002
reports that the world's first crop of genetically modified (GM) rice will be planted inpaddy fields across China in 2003. In addition, over 150 million acres of transgenic crops will be grownworldwide in 2003 -- most comprising soya beans, corn and cotton.The beginning of genetically modified crops for general consumption can be trace to May 19, 1994, whenthe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) gave its final approval to Calgene, Inc. to put itsgenetically engineered tomato, the
, on the market.
had a gene added from a foreignsource, a bacterium (or other), which is used to keep track of the genetic changes. Organisms of this sortare classified as transgenic, an organisms that contains gene(s) "transplanted" across biological boundariesbetween species or even biological kingdoms, such as the plant and the animal kingdoms.Of course, as it can be foreseen even now, the progress in transgenic crop-farming in 2003 would raisemore controversy not only among environmentalists and NGO activists, but also for bio-ethicists, regardingthe "natural" or "non-natural" characteristics of such crops, especially when they are our source of food.In the arena of GM food, the transgenic crop is merely the beginning: In 2003, milk from cloned cows willarrive on supermarket shelves once it passes USFDA testing, and cloned pigs will trot out in 2004,
adds. This will escalate the debate, for sure.
YearArea oftransgenic cropsworldwide(million acres)Transgenic seedsales worldwide(US$ million):SoybeansTransgenic seedsales worldwide(US$ million):CornTransgenic seedsales worldwide(US$ million):Cotton1996
5 11 15 35
130 1,096 544 480
184 1,550 765 1,110
Source: Freedonia, as quoted in The Economist, “The World in 2003 Edition”, December 2002
What do these advancements mean? What do they imply? What are the consequences?First of all, we have reached the boundary at which we can no longer believe that science is a neutral,value-free quest for "Truth". In 1962, Thomas Kuhn opened science to scrutiny as a social activity, but nowthe advancement of technology has become ambivalent and caused controversies.In modern biology, it has opened the Pandora's box of bioethics as to whether or not humans are "playingGod". Yet, the implications might differ from one to another.