COPENHAGEN, DENMARK U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack addressed the COP15, discussing the links between agricultural productivity and climate change. Vilsack points out that increasing food demand is putting more and more pressure on the environment, which is already suffering from a number of factors, including deforestation.
“To the extent that we can increase agricultural productivity we can reduce pressures on land and remove one driver of deforestation. Science and technology are already playing critical roles in moving us towards this direction,” said Secretary Vilsack. A supporter of ag biotech, Secretary Vilsack has said, “Certainly, biotechnology is one strategy for more sustainable agriculture.”
The entire video can be seen here.
The transcript of Secretary Vilsack and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s conference call on Food Security can be found here.
Please share your thoughts on agriculture and biotechnology’s role in mitigating climate change.
The latest issue of Rice Today focuses on climate change, and the potential impact extreme weather conditions in Southeast Asia will have on rice production. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is studying ways to better adapt rice crops to monsoons, floods and droughts, and has sent submergence-tolerant and salt-tolerant rice varieties to Myanmar for testing. The IRRI is also hosting an international conference about the future of rice production and climate change in November, 2009.
The issue also plays tributes to the late Nobel Laureate, Dr. Norman Borlaug, and his success in bringing the “Green Revolution” to India through developing high-yielding crops that help combat hunger and poverty.
You can read more about the latest issue of Rice Today here
Professor Sir Gordon Conway, chief scientist at the UK’s Department for International Development, has produced a new scientific paper arguing that climate change could devastate Africa and lead to catastrophic food shortages. He predicts that hunger could increase dramatically as more droughts affect water supply, leading to a 50% reduction in crop yields by 2020.
Sir Conway maintains that new technologies must be part of Africa’s response to hunger and drought. According to Sir Conway, “In certain circumstances…GM may be the speediest and most efficient way to increase yields.”
Read more about Sir Conway’s scientific paper here
Maywa Montenegro writes about the upcoming COP15 Summit in Copenhagen and the need for global leaders to be more mindful of the current tenuous state of global agriculture and the role biotechnology will play in meeting these challenges.
“Investing in biotechnology laboratories and training biotechnology-capable scientists is a big deal,” says Dr. Nina Fedoroff. “It’s expensive, it needs to be done everywhere, it’s a huge investment. So getting over this distaste for modern science because people don’t realize how long we’ve been changing plants to suit our needs is a really critical step.”
The entire article can be read here.
Please share your thoughts on the current state of global agriculture and the role of biotechnology in helping to address some of these problems.
Field to Market: The Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture has launched The Fieldprint Calculator, a free, online tool designed to help U.S. corn, cotton, soybean, and wheat growers assess how their operational decisions affect sustainability performance. The Calculator can estimate how a grower’s land use, energy use, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil loss per unit of output compares with state and national averages.
This is a trial version and Field to Market encourages feedback about the product. You can read more and provide feedback about the Fieldprint Calculator here