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Solving Food Security


Hierarchy of Needs – Get Psyched

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a well-known chart depicting the essentials of the human experience, states that physiological needs come first (Ferris). These needs, including air, water, food, shelter, clothing, and reproduction, are the bare essentials of human life. Food is arguably the most essential out of all of them, plus everyone loves food. From sweet treats like gooey, fudgy brownies, to savory dishes like juicy steak, food is central in all cultures and communities. However, for many people around the globe, food is not easily accessible. Today, 870 million people don’t have enough sustenance on the daily (Food). As the world population skyrockets, this number will increase throughout the next few years. In fact, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the global demand for food will increase anywhere from 70% to 100% by 2050. This means that food production will have to double within the next twenty to thirty years (Food). Although this problem seems near impossible to solve, there are possible solutions. One possible fix to this pending problem is the use of modified crops. 

The benefits of humans modifying crops are well known. You can genetically modify them to grow stronger, produce more fruit, and become resistant to pests and viruses. However, there has been a growing stigma around genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for their possible health risks and validity. GMOs are created when scientists insert a gene into a plant cell, and then stimulate cell division with hormones. Because the amount of DNA in a plant cell is so large, one little gene doesn’t change a plant. But over time as the offspring cells divide, every single cell in the resulting plant will contain that gene, thus changing the plant (What). The problem that some people have with this is that GMOs have been tampered with. One article writes, “Pesticide and herbicide-resistant crops… actually lead to an increase in pesticide and herbicide use over time” (Case). Furthermore, it may even be that GMOs aren’t actually always stronger or better than naturally grown fruit. An experiment done by Cornell University shows that naturally pollinated crops consistently had larger masses, diameters, and higher numbers of seeds and seed masses compared to artificially pollinated crops (Chautá-Mellizo). This contradicts the idea that humans can create better crops than nature can. Moreover, an article published in IJBS, “How Subchronic and Chronic Health Effects Can Be Neglected for GMOs, Pesticides or Chemicals,” describes how research and data suggest that GMOs are correlated with rising health issues like cardiovascular disease. Of course, it hasn’t been proven, but it’s something to be cautious of since the data suggests it (Séralini). Although solving food security may seem hopeless, there is another possible solution. 

Scientists and researchers at the University of Sheffield discovered that one particular protein involved in photosynthesis plays a bigger role in plant growth than previously thought. This protein is called cytochrome b6f. Simply put, a cytochrome is a protein that moves electrons around (Reed). In the case of photosynthesis, b6f moves around electrons that have lots of electrical energy from sunlight to help create Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) in plants (University). This is important because ATP is an energy source that is crucial for all living organisms. It is involved in a number of different chemical and biological reactions. ATP is also used to make glucose in the Calvin cycle, which is the next step of photosynthesis (Alevelsci). Glucose is a sugar that stores energy for the plant; food for plants. Without it, plants would starve and die. The most important thing that scientists discovered about b6f is its sensitivity. It can sense and detect changes in the environment and adjust the components of photosynthesis accordingly. Dr. Matt Johnson, a supervisor of the study, stated, “Cytochrome b6f is the beating heart of photosynthesis.” The central role that b6f plays in photosynthesis could help humans improve this vital biological process if they figured out how to manipulate the b6f protein. B6f could be used to increase food yields and solve problems of food security. The goal of the researchers is to use this information about b6f to alter plants and create larger harvests to feed the rapidly growing global population. 

According to Science Daily, this finding in agricultural science has the potential to advance humanity by alleviating the difficulties of food security (University). In order to provide enough food for the expected population of nine to ten billion in 2050, cytochrome b6f can be manipulated or copied in a variety of plants and foods — but because this is a fairly recent discovery, the potential dangers have not been totally fleshed out yet. Nevertheless, compared to traditional GMOs and artificially modified organisms, there is hope for the uses of b6f. Perhaps one day, b6f will be used to grow plants in a matter of days or hours, or used to revive dying crops. Perhaps one day, it could help feed the world. 


Works Cited

(in order of reference)

Ferris, Erin, “Hierarchy of Needs,” Get Psyched, Pennsylvania State University, 10 April 2015,

Mcleod, Saul. “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” Simply Psychology, Simply Psychology, 21 May 2018,

“Food Security.” USDA,

“What Are GMOs?” What Are GMOs?, Purdue University,

“The Case Against GMOs.” Organic Consumers Association, 31 Aug. 2014,

Chautá-Mellizo, Alexander, et al. “Effects of Natural and Artificial Pollination on Fruit and Offspring Quality.” Basic and Applied Ecology, vol. 13, no. 6, 2012, pp. 524–532., doi:10.1016/j.baae.2012.08.013.

Séralini, Gilles-Eric, et al. “How Subchronic and Chronic Health Effects Can Be Neglected for GMOs, Pesticides or Chemicals.” International Journal of Biological Sciences, 17 June 2009, pp. 438–443., doi:10.7150/ijbs.5.438.

University of Sheffield. “Experts unlock key to photosynthesis, a find that could help us meet food security demands.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 November 2019. <>.

Reed, Darla. “Cytochrome: Definition & Structure.”,, “Energy for Biological Processes – ATP, Photosynthesis and Respiration.” STEM, 12 July 2016,

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