When contemplating the role of biotechnology-derived crops today, Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, asks readers to consider the rapidly increasing world population. By 2050, she says, the world “will likely have another two billion mouths to feed and face an estimated 70% increase in global food demand.” In order to meet the needs of future generations, new agricultural technologies must be implemented. Coleman concludes that a variety of tactics should be used to boost agricultural production, adding that “we would be remiss if we do not include GM crops in the toolkit.” READ MORE »
Calestous Juma, professor of the practice of international development at Harvard—and “one of the most innovative thinkers on how to harness new technologies for economic development”—believes genetically modified (GM) crops are a necessary agricultural solution to help address the challenges of climate change and population growth, a Council on Foreign Relations blog states.
“It doesn’t make sense to reduce the size of the toolbox when the challenges are expanding,” Dr. Juma said in an interview with Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He predicts in 2012 “there will be more GM crops grown in developing countries than in developed countries.” READ MORE »
Research by Harvard Kennedy School Professor Calestous Juma demonstrates ag biotech’s contributions to food security
Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development at Harvard’s Kennedy School, produced a working paper that discusses the contributions of scientific knowledge to agricultural innovations.
In particular, his paper “Technological Abundance for Global Agriculture: The Role of Biotechnology,” points out that developing countries can use biotech methods to drive agricultural productivity and increase food security.
According to Professor Juma, “Areas of the developing world lagging in the utilization and accumulation of technology have the ability to not only to catch up to industrial leaders in biotechnology, but also to attain their own level of research growth.” Read more.
Dr. Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development at Harvard Kennedy School and author of The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa (Oxford University Press, 2011), writes a guest blog discussing the implications of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) 2011 report on major developments impacting biotech crop adoption worldwide.
By Calestous Juma
This year’s announcement by ISAAA that the adoption of transgenic crops continues to expand at 8% per year since 1996-when biotech crops first became available to U.S. farmers- is a signal of the transformational role that biotechnology is already having on agriculture. ISAAA reports that biotech crops contributed to mitigating climate change, alleviating poverty and improving global food security. Most notably, it states that between 1996 and 2010, biotech crops increased “crop production and value by $78 billion.” In 2010 alone, the technology contributed to “conserving biodiversity by saving 91 million hectares of land; and helped alleviate poverty by helping 15.0 million small farmers who are some of the poorest people in the world.”
The evidence is stacking up against critics of biotechnology. Earlier claims that transgenic crops were likely to have dramatic negative impacts on the environment will not continue to enjoy the kind of support they did 15 years ago. What is needed now is a more balanced assessment that looks at all the evidence available to date to determine the role of biotechnology in addressing climate change and global food needs.
A key takeaway from the 17th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17) is the need for international cooperation to address the challenges of climate change in places like Africa, where drought and other severe weather conditions have contributed to poor crop production and starvation.
In a Science Magazine article, Calestous Juma, professor of the Practice of International Development at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, calls on international organizations to help Africa and other developing countries meet food demands and drive economic growth through expanding access to agricultural biotechnology.
Professor Juma proposes the development of an intergovernmental agency that “would help African countries adopt biotechnology strategies enabling African farmers and the population at large to benefit from the world’s wealth of scientific and technological knowledge.” Read more.