Biotechnology & Human Population (OCR Gateway GCSE Biology: Combined Science)

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Biotechnology & Human Population

  • There are some possible biotechnological solutions to the demands of the growing human population
  • These mainly centre around
    • Genetic modification of crops
    • Genetic modification of livestock
  • Such solutions move towards a more intensive food production industry globally
    • More people plus less available land means that agricultural productivity must rise

Examples of agricultural productivity gains via biotechnology

Genetic Modification of Crops

  • Genetically modified (GM) crops may be regarded as an elegant solution to increasing food production, but GM is not without its risks and drawbacks
  • Just over 10% of the world's arable land is now under GM crops
    • This has grown rapidly since the 1990s
    • The fact that not more than 10% of arable land is GM suggests that the route towards a fully-GM food supply base still has its problems and blockages that are holding back progress

Advantages & Disadvantages of Genetically Engineered Plants Table

Genetic Engineering table, IGCSE & GCSE Biology revision notes

Exam Tip

Be prepared to discuss both the advantages and disadvantages of any measure that claims to increase agricultural output. Examiners will be looking for a balanced, reasoned set of arguments. 

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Author: Phil

Phil has a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Birmingham, followed by an MBA from Manchester Business School. He has 15 years of teaching and tutoring experience, teaching Biology in schools before becoming director of a growing tuition agency. He has also examined Biology for one of the leading UK exam boards. Phil has a particular passion for empowering students to overcome their fear of numbers in a scientific context.