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CNN10 2023-03-07

CNN 10

Food Shortage In North Korea. Aired 4-4:10a ET

Aired March 07, 2023 - 04:00:00 ET


COY WIRE, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Hello, lovely people. Terrific Tuesday to you. I'm Coy Wire. Thank you for spending part of your day with us right here on CNN 10, the best 10 minutes in news.

Now we have to start today with some sad and concerning news out of North Korea. Experts say that North Korea's chronic food shortages are growing and so is the number of citizens potentially dying due to starvation. Trade data, satellite images and assessments from the United Nations and South Korea suggest that the nation is grappling with their lowest food supply since the famine of the 1990s, a famine that caused mass starvation, killing hundreds of thousands of people.

Experts say the current food shortage is likely due to complications from the COVID pandemic. Three years of closed borders and strict isolation, as well as floods and storms which offset planting. North Korea is a self- isolated and very secretive country, so it's difficult to assess or prove what's really going on there.

Experts say that equal distribution of any available food there is unlikely because the elite and military are prioritized. Now despite the food shortage which few experts deny, North Korea continues to spend money on missile tests instead of food, and refuses aid from neighboring countries.

Here's CNN's Paula Hancocks with more.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Concerns about North Korea's food crisis are growing. Reports from multiple sources say deaths due to starvation are likely.

LUCAS RENGIFO-KELLER, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INT. ECONOMICS: Probably its worst point since the famine in the 1990s, which killed three to five percent of the population.

HANCOCKS: Attentions are being paid at the very top. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held a workers party meeting this week, calling for a fundamental change in farming and state economic plans. But many say it is his regime, its chronic mismanagement and isolation that has caused this crisis.

LINA YOON, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: We're really talking about three years of no imports of fertilizer. There's been no input of tools or components to fix the outdated machinery that they have.

HANCOCKS: An extensive shutdown of borders due to the COVID pandemic meant almost no food or aid was getting into the country. Only in recent months as minimal trade restarted with China. South Korean officials said last month they believed deaths from starvation are occurring in certain areas, though provided no evidence.

Its rural development agency estimates that the North's food production dropped almost four percent last year from the year before.

RENGIFO-KELLER: Food has dipped below the amount needed to satisfy the minimum human elites. So as it stands by that measure, even if you distributed food perfectly equally which is totally inconceivable, you would have hunger-related deaths.

HANCOCKS: Speaking to South Korea's foreign minister last week, he said Pyongyang has to decide to help its own people.

PARK JIN, SOUTH KOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The only way that North Korea can get out of this trouble is to come back to the dialogue table and accept our humanitarian offer to the north and make a better choice for the future.

HANCOCKS: The regime's focus remains on its nuclear and missile program. Seoul's Ministry of Unification says if Pyongyang had used the money spent on launching missiles last year for food, it could have bought one million tons, more than enough to cover the annual food shortage. But that focus is unlikely to shift.

YOON: As the time goes on, the capacity for North Koreans to endure hardship becomes harder and harder, their resilience, you know, runs off and their -- you know, their resources also decrease.


WIRE: Ten-second trivia:

In biology, a complete set of DNA in an organism is called what?

Genome, chromosome, genetic code, or interphase?

Genome is the term for the entire set of DNA instructions for a cell or organism.

Thanks to recent breakthroughs in genetics, scientists say they will soon be able to bring back prehistoric creatures that have been extinct for thousands of years. We could see a woolly mammoth roaming the earth in as little as four years, according to researchers.

Now, woolly mammoths were the huge, hairy-looking elephant type beasts marching through the ice age snow about 10,000 years ago. One company,

Colossal Biosciences, says it plans to reincarnate the mammoth using gene editing technology, in a process called de-extinction.

And there are other extinct creatures scientists could bring back as well, like the Tasmanian tiger or the dodo bird. But should they?

As you can imagine, there are plenty of ethical questions about these recent genetic advancements. Here's CNN's Rachel crane with more.


RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Your body contains 37.2 trillion cells and within each is a copy of a code consisting of more than twenty thousand genes and billions of strands of DNA. This code is your genome and it determines everything that makes you you.

What if you could modify that code, bring back extinct species, eliminate hereditary diseases? That is precisely what molecular engineers and geneticists around the world are working on.

GEORGE CHURCH, GENETICS PREOFESSOR, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Genes are what we get and we're stuck with them and the environment is the only thing we can change and there's kind of a limit to how much you can do. But now, if we can change our genes, too, but really in much closer to total control of our biology and physiology.

CRANE: George Church is one of many, using a revolutionary gene-editing technique called CRISPR-Cas9, which allows you to modify DNA sequences.

CHURCH: CRISPR is a way that you can design and target a particular part of your genome and change it to something else, or you can delete a gene.

You can make all sorts of edits very precisely.

CRANE: CRISPR is kind of like having the fine delete replace function for DNA. No one actually invented the process. It happens naturally.

Scientists discovered that bacteria alter their DNA to defend against viruses, essentially storing part of a virus so they can identify target and attack the virus if it comes back. Researchers realize the tools bacteria use to do this were Cas proteins, nature's genetic scissors.

Geneticists are now using these proteins to make their own targeted changes to DNA.

Scientists have been messing with genomes for years. So what's the big deal with CRISPR?

CHURCH: This is dramatically different. I mean, it's like 10,000 times easier. This can be used in agriculture, where you can change any plant or animal, can be used to eliminate invasive species.

What's most exciting about CRISPR is our ability to alter long-standing epidemics like malaria and HIV.

CRANE: And that could potentially save millions of lives.

CHURCH: So here we grow human cells, elephant cells. We can do cloning procedures.

CRANE: It turns out that you can make pretty pretties by tweaking small strands of DNA, by making changes to the DNA of the Asian elephant, researchers in Church's lab are working to bring the woolly mammoth back to life.

CHURCH: The difference between a woolly mammoth and Asian elephant is actually quite subtle at the DNA level.

CRANE: What am I going to see a woolly mammoth in Jurassic park?

JOE GETSY, RESEARCH FELLOW, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Right. So an actual full woolly mammoth I think is still a few years down the road. We can just change one gene and then the next gene and then soon we have thousands of genes that are changed. The elephant cell will have the exact same DNA sequence as the woolly mammoth cell.

CRANE: Paint this picture of what the future looks like as a result of CRISPR in your eyes?

GETSY: I suppose the wildest description would be that you have some 150- year-old people that look like their 20-year-old riding on a mammoth. Is that why wild?

CRANE: But CRISPR is not without controversy. If you can make a mammoth, consider what you can do with a person's DNA?

For the first time, scientists in China use CRISPER to edit the genomes of human embryos.

People fear CRISPR could lead to designer babies. How do we prevent that from happening?

CHURCH: We shouldn't be playing. We should be engineering and I think that's what we are doing.

CRANE: Where do you think the moral and ethical boundary is?

CHURCH: Safety. I think safety is number one, just like any new technology or new drug, we should try to make it as safe as possible. If we don't do anything, then people are definitely going to die of malaria next year. A lot of people are going to die of HIV if we don't do something.

If we focus on why it's useful, then that changes the conversation to, you know, what's the alternative? (END VIDEOTAPE)

WIRE: And for today's story getting a 10 out of 10, ice cream lovers that'll not be denied their treats, this Dairy Queen in Moorhead,

Minnesota, opens every year on March 1st, no matter what the weather is. And if you've ever been to Minnesota in March, it is not warm and toasty.

These faithful fans lining up on opening day, all bundled up, ready to dominate some Dairy Queen blizzards in all sorts of snow. Ice cream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream no matter what the weather.

My favorite flavor is Oreo. Well, at least for now. What's yours?

I want to give a special shout out to Springdale Middle School in Springdale, Arkansas, rise up. Also for all the students out there, get you some teacher time this Tuesday. Go on and dap up your teacher, give them a handshake or high five, let them know you appreciate them.

See you tomorrow, everyone. I'm Coy Wire, and we are CNN 10.