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.
Rice is the staple food of around three billion people, and the main challenge facing rice producers is how to raise yields of the water-dependent crop as 70 percent of the world’s food-growing areas face more drought, said the International Rice Research Institute in its latest quarterly magazine.
Genetic modification may be the only viable way to produce sufficient quantities of rice in the future as drought, climate change and dwindling acreage impact yields, experts said in the new report.
However, according to Gurdev Khush, a University of California professor who was a former senior IRRI scientist, “the environment for accepting genetically modified crops is not as good as it should be.”
Read more on the new report here.
Britain will spend up to £100m on support for genetically modified crops for the world’s poor, the Guardian reports. Despite not allowing agricultural biotechnology at home, the British government is committed to dramatically increasing spending on high-tech agriculture over the next five years.
According to a new white paper, the government will spend £80m on the development of biofortified crops containing added vitamins, £60m on drought-resistant maize research in Africa, and £24m on pest resistance. In addition, support for an international network of GM crop research stations, in collaboration with GM companies, will be doubled.
During her first visit to India as secretary of state, Clinton discussed the need to address world hunger via crop productivity and increased crop yields.
“We have to work together. It is imperative that we invest in science that increases crop yield,” Clinton said at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute.
“India has 3% of the world’s crop land but feeds 17% of the world’s population. Its leadership in agriculture is crucial…we are looking at ways to accelerate in a short period of time the growth of productivity,” Clinton said.
Read more about Secretary of State Clinton’s remarks in the Times of India and The Hindu.