The Indian government would do well to relax regulations on GM crops, and encourage agricultural innovation to promote food security and reduce poverty, stressed environmental activist Mark Lynas in a recent interview with the Business Standard.
When asked how GM technology could benefit India, Lynas responded that the technology can be used to bolster the country’s food security, pointing out that “it can help farmers by reducing the need for pesticides and delivering higher yields for fewer inputs. It can also deliver drought tolerance, and help make Indian farming more resilient in the face of climate change.”
Lynas also described how the adoption of GM crops could contribute to poverty reduction in India. “Raising productivity for poor-country farmers would be the quickest route to attack poverty, and yet the campaigners seem content to see farmers in developing country stuck in an organic version of the Stone Age. GM crops can help protect against diseases, and in some case are the only option - one example is bananas, which are under attack from a new bacterial wilt in Eastern Africa, and for which resistance can only be brought by GM because bananas are sterile and propagated clonally,” he explained. READ MORE »
While innovation is recognized as an important element for America’s manufacturing and information technology sectors, it also plays a critical role in advancing U.S. agriculture and making our farmers the most productive in the world. This was the theme of Agriculture: Growing Innovation & Opportunities, a conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today in Washington.
Conference speakers cited several innovations in agriculture that enable farmers to grow more food on less land, with fewer inputs and a smaller environmental footprint. These include better soil management practices, improved water conservation methods, the use of GPS technology and other smart applications, better nutrient management systems, and the development, maturation and utilization of agriculture biotechnology crops.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said innovations in crop genetics helped farmers cope with last summer’s drought. “We just suffered through the most serious drought that this country has faced since the 1930s. Had we faced this drought without seed genetics, we would have seen serious crop losses. We still had a corn crop ranked in the top 10 in productivity in U.S. history. And it’s a result of seed genetics and innovation. And it’s a result of farmers embracing new planting technologies that allow us to preserve and conserve water resources and still maintain and provide a crop,” he said. READ MORE »
Innovations in agricultural biotechnology continue to provide successful solutions to present-day challenges, from “golden rice” that can alleviate vitamin-A deficiencies in children throughout the developing world, to biotech papayas resistant to a virus that previously threatened Hawaii’s entire papaya industry, writes Alex Berezow, editor of RealClearScience and a co-author of “Science Left Behind.”
Potential advancements in ag biotech have been held back by misleading efforts to play down the technology’s benefits and exaggerate the risks, Berezow points out, citing the Proposition 37 initiative. “Biotechnology simply opens new opportunities and allows the modification to occur quickly and far more accurately,” he explains in today’s Wall Street Journal. “Humans have been genetically modifying food for millennia via artificial selection.”
“There’s a reason that respected scientists, medical doctors and government officials embrace GMOs: They understand the technology and its potential for revolutionary change. For a world population that will hit nine billion people by 2050, we need every tool in the arsenal to keep improving agricultural production and bring the developing world out of poverty,” he concludes. Read more.
Genetic engineering can lead to beneficial advances in human nutrition and the fight against world hunger, according to the top science advisor to Pope Benedict XVI.
“Thanks to the recent advances in genomics, proteomics and metabolomics, it has become possible to direct biological evolution in order to better fulfill our needs for a healthy nutrition as a contribution to medically relevant improvements,” said Dr. Werner Arber, president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which advises the pope on scientific matters. Arber is a Swiss molecular biologist who shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology in 1978. He is the first non-Catholic to serve as head of the academy.
“Our Academy concluded that recently established methods of preparing transgenic organisms follow natural laws of biological evolution and bear no risks anchored in the methodology of genetic engineering,” he recently told the pope and an audience of bishops meeting in Rome. “The beneficial prospects for improving widely-used nutritional crops can be expected to alleviate the still-existing malnutrition and hunger in the human population of the developing world.” Read more.
Biotechnology is critical to the goal of producing more food for a growing world population, according to leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a forum for 21 Pacific Rim countries comprising 40 percent of the world’s population.
“Sustainable agricultural growth is a priority for all our economies,” the leaders said in a declaration at the end of a summit in Vladivostok, Russia. “In pursuing this goal we will take concrete actions to raise productivity in agriculture by boosting investment and adopting innovative technologies in agriculture, including agricultural biotechnology.”
The leaders said that the world faces growing challenges to regional and global food security.
“Given the growing world population, reducing the number of undernourished people by raising food production, improving the individuals’ or households’ economic access to food and improving the efficiency and openness of food markets will require more concerted effort by and cooperation among all APEC economies,” they wrote. APEC promotes free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Read more.