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“轉基因食品”能養活世界嗎? Genetically modified foods -- Fe

放大字體  縮小字體 發布日期:2006-08-23  瀏覽次數:4022
If you want to spark a heated debate at a dinner party, bring up the topic of genetically modified foods. For many people, the concept of genetically altered, high-tech crop production raises all kinds of environmental, health, safety and ethical questions. Particularly in countries with long agrarian traditions -- and vocal green lobbies -- the idea seems against nature.
如果你想在某次晚宴上挑起一場激烈的爭論,那就提出轉基因食品的話題吧。對許多人來說,高科技的轉基因作物生產的概念會帶來諸如環境、健康、安全和倫理等方面的各種問題。特別是在有悠久的農業生產傳統和主張環保的游說集團的國家里,轉基因食品的主意似乎有悖自然。
In fact, genetically modified foods are already very much a part of our lives. A third of the corn and more than half the soybeans and cotton grown in the US last year were the product of biotechnology, according to the Department of Agriculture. More than 65 million acres of genetically modified crops will be planted in the US this year. The genetic is out of the bottle.
事實上,轉基因食品已經成為我們生活重要的一部分。根據農業部的統計,美國去年所種植玉米的1/3,大豆和棉花的一半以上都是生物技術的產物。今年,美國將種植6500多萬英畝的轉基因作物;蜓忠呀洀钠孔永锱艹鰜砹。
Yet there are clearly some very real issues that need to be resolved. Like any new product entering the food chain, genetically modified foods must be subjected to rigorous testing. In wealthy countries, the debate about biotech is tempered by the fact that we have a rich array of foods to choose from -- and a supply that far exceeds our needs. In developing countries desperate to feed fast-growing and underfed populations; the issue is simpler and much more urgent: Do the benefits of biotech outweigh the risks?
但是,顯然還有一些非,F實的問題需要解決。就像任何一種要進入食物鏈的新食品一樣,轉基因食品必須經過嚴格的檢驗。在富裕的國家里,由于有大量豐富的食品可供選擇,而且供應遠遠超過需求,所以關于生物技術的爭論相對緩和一些。在迫切想要養活其迅速增長而又吃不飽的人口的發展中國家,問題比較簡單,也更加緊迫:生物技術的好處是否大于風險呢?
The statistics on population growth and hunger are disturbing. Last year the world's population reached 6 billion. And by 2050, the UN estimates, it will probably near 9 billion. Almost all that growth will occur in developing countries. At the same time, the world's available cultivable land per person is declining. Arable land has declined steadily since 1960 and will decease by half over the next 50 years, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA).
關于人口增長和饑餓的統計數字讀來令人感到不安。去年,世界人口達到了60億。聯合國預測,到2D0年,這個數字很可能將接近90億,而增加的人口幾乎都來自發展中國家。與此同時,世界人均耕地正在減少。國際農業生物工程應用技術采購管理局(ISAAA)稱,自1960年以來,耕地面積一直持續下降,并將在今后50年減少一半。
The UN estimates that nearly 800 million people around the world are undernourished. The effects are devastating. About 400 million women of childbearing age are iron deficient, which means their babies are exposed to various birth defects. As many as 100 million children suffer from vitamin A deficiency, a leading cause of blindness. Tens of millions of people suffer from other major ailments and nutritional deficiencies caused by lack of food.
聯合國估計,世界上有近8億人口營養不良。它產生的效應是破壞性的。大約有4億的育齡婦女體內缺鐵,也就是說,她們的嬰兒將可能有各種天生的缺陷。數量多達1億的兒童缺乏維生素A,這是導致失明的主要原因。還有數千萬的人患有因食物匱乏而導致的其他嚴重疾病和營養不良癥。
How can biotech help? Biotechnologists have developed genetically modified rice that is fortified with beta-carotene -- which the body converts into vitamin A -- and additional iron, and they are working on other kinds of nutritionally improved crops. Biotech can also improve farming productivity in places where food shortages are caused by crop damage attribution to pests, drought, poor soil and crop viruses, bacteria or fungi.
生物技術對此能做些什么呢?生物技術專家已經培育出了含有β—胡蘿卜素(身體可將之轉化為維生素A)和更多鐵元素的轉基因水稻,目前正在研究培育其他一些增進營養成分的農作物。生物技術還可以幫助提高因蟲害、干旱、土壤貧瘠和作物病毒、細菌或真菌導致作物減產而出現食物匱乏的地區的農業生產率。
Damage caused by pests is incredible. The European corn borer, for example, destroys 40 million tons of the world's corn crop annually, about 7% of the total. Incorporating pest-resistant genes into seeds can help restore the balance. In trials of pest-resistant cotton in Africa, yields have increased significantly. So far, fears that genetically modified, pest-resistant crops might kill good insects as well as bad appear unfounded.
蟲害帶來的損失令人難以置信。例如,歐洲玉米螟每年毀掉4000萬噸玉米,占世界玉米總產量的7%。把抗蟲害的基因植入種子可以幫助避免這一損失。在非洲進行的抗蟲害棉花試驗中,棉花的產量已大幅度提高。有人擔心,抗蟲害的轉基因作物不僅將害蟲殺死,而且有可能連益蟲也一起殺死,但到目前為止,這種擔心似乎沒有根據。
Viruses often cause massive failure in staple crops in developing countries. Two years age, Africa lost more than half its cassava crop -- a key source of calories -- to the mosaic virus. Genetically modified, virus-resistant crops can reduce that damage, as can drought-tolerant seeds in regions where water shortages limit the amount of land under cultivation. Biotech can also help solve the problem of soil that contains excess aluminum, which can damage roots and cause many staple-crop failures. A gene that helps neutralize aluminum toxicity in rice has been identified.
病毒常常在發展中國家造成主要糧食作物的大面積歉收。兩年前,花葉病毒使非洲損失了超過一半的木薯,而這種作物是當地人的主要食物。轉基因的抗病毒作物可以減少這種損失,就像抗干旱種子在可耕地面積因缺水而受到限制的地區起到的作用一樣。含鋁過高的土壤會損傷作物的根系并使許多主要作物歉收,對于這種問題生物技術也能幫助解決。目前,研究人員已經識別出一種有助于中和水稻里鋁的毒性的基因。
Many scientists believe biotech could raise overall crop productivity in developing countries as much as 25% and help prevent the loss of those crops after they are harvested.
許多科學家認為,生物技術能夠把發展中國家的農業總產量提高25%,并且幫助防止作物收割后遭受損失。
Yet for all that promise, biotech is far from being the whole answer. In developing countries, lost crops are only one cause of hunger. Poverty plays the largest role. Today more than 1 billion people around the globe live on less than ' 1 a day. Making genetically modified crops available will not reduce hunger if farmers cannot afford to grow them or if the local population cannot afford to buy the food those farmers produce.
盡管具有這么多潛力,生物技術還遠遠不能解決全部問題。在發展中國家,作物歉收只是造成饑餓的一個原因。貧窮才是罪魁禍首。今天,全世界有超過10億人口每天靠不到1美元維持生計。如果農民沒錢種植轉基因作物或當地人買不起農民種出的糧食,培育轉基因作物就無法減少饑餓。Nor can biotech overcome the challenge of distributing food in developing countries. Taken as a whole, the world produces enough food to feed everyone -- but much of it is simply in the wrong place. Especially in countries with undeveloped transport infrastructures, geography restricts food availability as dramatically as genetics promises to improve it.
此外,生物技術也無法克服在發展中國家分配糧食的難題。從整體上看,世界生產的糧食足夠養活所有人,但大部分糧食卻不是在需要的地方。尤其在運輸基礎設施落后的國家,地理條件對食物供給的限制正如遺傳學為食物供給帶來的希望一樣大。
Biotech has its own "distribution" problems. Private-sector biotech companies in the rich countries carry out much of the leading-edge research on genetically modified crops. Their products are often too costly for poor farmers in the developing world, and many of those products won't even reach the regions where they are most needed. Biotech firms have a strong financial incentive to target rich markets first in order to help them rapidly recoup the high costs of product development. But some of these companies are responding to needs of poor countries. A London-based company, for example, has announced that it will share with developing countries technology needed to produce vitamin-enriched "golden rice".
生物技術也面臨自身的“分配”問題。許多轉基因作物方面的尖端研究都是富國的私營生物技術公司進行的。對發展中國家的窮苦農民來說,這些公司的產品通常顯得過于昂貴,而且這些產品中的大部分甚至無法到達最需要的地區。強大的經濟刺激促使生物技術公司把富裕國家的市場作為第一目標,以便能夠盡快回收產品開發的高額成本。不過,有些公司已開始對貧窮國家的需要做出反應。例如,一家總部在倫敦的公司已經宣布,它愿意和發展中國家一起分享生產維生素增強型的“金水稻”所需的技術。
More and more biotech research is being carried out in developing countries. But to increase the impact of genetic research on the food production of those countries, there is a need for better collaboration between government agencies -- both local and in developed countries -- and private biotech firms. The ISAAA, for example, is successfully partnering with the US Agency for International Development, local researches and private biotech companies to find and deliver biotech solutions for farmers in developing countries.
發展中國家正在進行越來越多的生物技術研究。但是,為擴大遺傳學研究對這些國家的糧食生產的影響,政府各部門(包括當地政府部門和發達國家的政府部門)與私營生物技術公司之間需要更好的合作。例如,國際農業生物工程應用技術采購管理局目前正與美國國際發展署、當地的研究人員以及私營的生物技術公司進行成功的合作,以幫助發展中國家的農民尋求生物技術方面的解決辦法。
Will "Frankenfoods" feed the world? Biotech is not a panacea, but it does promise to transform agriculture in many developing countries. If that promise is not fulfilled, the real losers will be their people, who could suffer for years to come.
“弗蘭肯食品”能養活世界嗎?生物技術雖不是萬靈藥,但它確實有希望改造許多發展中國家的農業。如果這種希望不能實現,真正的受害者將是這些國家的人民,他們可能會在未來的歲月里遭受苦難。
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