Norman Borlaug, a professor at Texas A&M University and winner of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to the world food supply, writes an interesting op-ed in the Wall Street Journal regarding the ability of farmers to feed the world’s population.
Says Borlaug, “Given the right tools, farmers have shown an uncanny ability to feed themselves and others, and to ignite the economic engine that will reverse the cycle of chronic poverty. And the escape from poverty offers a chance for greater political stability in their countries as well.”
To accomplish food security, Borlaug writes that “governments must make their decisions about access to new technologies, such as the development of genetically modified organisms—on the basis of science, and not to further political agendas. Open markets will stimulate continued investment, innovation and new developments from public research institutions, private companies and novel public/private partnerships.”
Read Borlaug’s piece in the Wall Street Journal here.
In a fight against world hunger, three internationally known research organizations based in St. Louis– the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the Washington University School of Medicine and St. Louis Children’s Hospital – have formed the Global Harvest Alliance. The Global Harvest Alliance will seek to create inexpensive, nutritionally complete food to help the world’s hungry and undernourished.
The alliance will examine the best approaches to fight malnutrition and work to improve enriched foods by testing and distributing genetically modified crops to boost nutritional content. The goal is to provide affordable crops to farmers who will then be able to produce more nutritious foods.
Dr. Mark Manary, a pediatrician who will serve as the alliance’s director, has provided an enriched peanut-butter mixture to malnourished children in the sub-Saharan country of Malawi that has led to high recovery rates.
Read more about the Global Harvest Alliance’s work bringing together scientists who help the hungry and research specific needs and crops here.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has released a report, “The Bioeconomy to 2030: Designing a Policy Agenda,” calling for an increased world commitment to “reverse the neglect” of agriculture and industrial biotechnology. The report states that while approximately 75 percent of the future economic contribution of biotechnology and large environmental benefits are likely to come from ag biotech and industrial biotech, they only receive 20 percent of research investments.
The report recommends a boost in ag biotech development by “increasing public research investment, reducing regulatory burdens and encouraging private-public partnerships,” and calls for the increased use of biotechnology to address global environmental issues.
Two interesting findings in the report:
“The use of biotechnology in agriculture is an evolving success story. By 2015, approximately half of global production of the major food, feed and industrial feedstock crops could come from plant varieties developed using one or more types of biotechnology.”
“Much of the future growth of agriculture will be in developing countries. These countries will need to increase their capacity to use biotechnology in order to develop improved food, feed and fiber crops that are adapted to local growing conditions.”
Dr. Daniel Mataruka
Dr. Daniel Mataruka of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) has written an original article for the CBI blog on the role of ag biotech in Africa. Dr. Mataruka writes:
“During the past decade, Africa’s population increased from 760 to 970 million, pushing farmers to encroach on fragile ecosystems. Climate change is increasingly manifest through erratic rainfall patterns, prolonged drought spells, and unprecedented floods, making rain-fed agriculture even more risky, thus aggravating food insecurity among resource-poor smallholder farmers. Compounding this scenario are post-harvest pests that devour their meager harvests. Indeed, the challenges are great, sometimes disillusioning, but certainly not insurmountable. Under these circumstances, GM technologies have a role in addressing challenges that were previously elusive to classical breeding on its own.”
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Dr. Florence Wambugu
Dr. Florence Wambugu, the CEO of Africa Harvest will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Bath (UK) in July. She provides her perspective on the success of Kenya’s genetically modified sweet potato and the effect it has had on the agricultural biotechnology in Kenya and the African continent. READ MORE »