In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, a Kenyan farmer calls on European leaders to embrace biotechnology to help Africa and the rest of the world boost food production.
Gilbert Arap Bor, who grows maize and vegetables and raises cows in Kenya, says Africa’s challenges with producing enough food could be addressed by giving farmers access “to one of the world’s most important hunger-fighting tools.” Read more.
Former USDA Secretary Dan Glickman says technology will improve the global food supply
During The Atlantic’s event “Feeding Future Generations” in Washington D.C., Former USDA Secretary Dan Glickman said technology is necessary to feed a growing world population. He pointed out that possible cuts to the U.S. foreign assistance budget add urgency to helping other countries, particularly in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa, to produce higher yielding crops. Read more.
UC-Berkeley plant biologist points out the high costs of GM food labeling
In the University of California-Berkeley’s Food Blog, biotechnology specialist Dr. Peggy Lemaux discusses the high potential costs consumers would need to pay if there was mandatory genetically modified (GM) food labeling in the US.
“If there is widespread agreement on the need for labeling, then a market could arise for GMO-free labeled foods for which people would pay extra,” Lemaux said. “This would be similar to the current situation with Kosher and organic foods. Since having access to GMO-free foods is not a matter of food safety, but food preference, this approach would lead to a situation in which only those people who want the extra information would pay for it.” Read more.
Report: Delays in GM crop approvals are putting Europe’s food security at risk
According to Reuters, Europe’s biotechnology industry presented EU policy makers with a report demonstrating that “agricultural imports vital to EU food security” are increasingly being put at risk due to delays in the approval of GM crops. The report urges the European Commission, which oversees GM crop approvals, to make a commitment to reducing the backlog of applications. Read more.
Scientists in Ghana say biotechnology will contribute to socio-economic development
Ghana’s government pointed out support from local scientists who said biotechnology could help reduce poverty and improve the country’s food security at the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB) conference in Accra. Former Ghanaian president, John Agyekum Kufuor, won the World Food Prize this year for implementing initiatives that included technology solutions to alleviate hunger in Ghana.
Dr. Yaa Difie Osei, Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana, said, “This approach will enable Ghana enhanced nutritional values and increase the life shelves of produce to sustain socio-economic development of the country.” Read more.
China supports GM corn to boost domestic corn output
According to All About Feed, China is testing genetically modified (GM) corn technology to boost domestic production, which has failed to meet the demand over the past two years. “We have approved one type of GMO strain and we’re testing to see if they can be applied to boost production,” said Chen Xiaohua, a vice agricultural minister. He added, “GMO technology is the strategic choice of the country in the future.” Read more.
This week New York Times focused in on pertinent issue of food security, with three articles on how we are going to meet the challenge of feeding the growing population at a time when a warming planet already threatens food supply. In a front page article for the Times titled “A Warming Planet Struggles to Feed Itself”, reporter Justin Gillis details some of the challenges facing farmers around the world today, from unpredictable rains to volatile food prices. He writes about the “divine intervention of technology” for many rice farmers in India, who have been part of a field trial for a new variety of rice that is submergence-tolerant and can grow in floods. Read more.
Mr. Gillis followed-up on his piece with a blog post for New York Times Green that dives into the question of how farmers around the world - particularly those in developing countries - can meet food demand. In a post titled “Can the Yield Gap be Closed Sustainably”, he looks at agriculture in Africa and the effort by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide Africans farmers with advanced crop technologies, such as a genetically modified corn variety that is designed to resist drought. Read more.
In a second blog post, Justin Gillis looks at the effect a growing population, improved diets, scarce water and a shortage of land will have on the future of agriculture, food prices and the environment. To counteract this “clash” he writes that “the list of innovations needed to produce food on a warming planet is long and daunting.” Furthermore, he writes that the innovations need to come not just from private companies, but also governments, universities and foundations. He explains that we need a broad array of institutions working together to develop the next big idea to meet this challenge. Read more.
Lastly, keeping in the theme of innovations that will help us meet future food supply challenges, we wanted to share this very cool infographic produced in partnership by GOOD and the Gates Foundation. The infographic looks at the innovations that will help African farmers thrive. In particular, it shows that with better maize (corn) varieties that have been genetically engineered to survive on less water, farmers in Africa can achieve 30% more yield in drought-prone areas.
Buffet Foundation funds development of GM sorghum for Africa
According to Reuters, the Howard G. Buffet Foundation is providing a $4 million grant to support efforts to develop genetically modified sorghum for Africa that is fortified with vitamins.
“Improving the nutrition of this staple crop has the potential to change the lives of more than 300 million Africans,” said Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and father of Howard G. Buffet. The Howard G. Buffet Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for the world’s most impoverished populations, often through agricultural productivity. Read more.
CNBC Special Report discusses role of ag tech in world food supply
A CNBC Special Report on Food Economics says agricultural biotechnology is gaining a bigger role in helping to improve global crop yields. The article points out that diseases and insects reduce global crop production by 35 percent. Biotech crops with insect and disease resistance and drought tolerance help farmers produce healthy crops. Read more.