A former British Science minister speaks out on behalf of biotech crops and researchers in India develop a protein-rich potato that has the potential to improve the diets of millions in developing nations.
Former British Science Minister calls for renewed debate on biotech crops based on scientific evidence
Lord David Sainsbury, a former British science minister, spoke out recently on behalf of biotech crops, sharing that the “technology could play a vitally important role in feeding a global population predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050.” Lord Sainsbury told BBC Radio that the UK risks falling behind other world powers like India and China because of the country’s ban on biotech crops. He adds that ruling out this technology would be “very foolish” and not based on scientific evidence. Read more.
Genetic engineering a more precise form of selective plant breeding
While a great deal of recent attention has been devoted to the FDA’s approval process of genetically engineered salmon, Associated Press reporters Seth Borenstein and Malcolm Ritter write that humans have been altering food for the thousands of years through selective plant breeding. Norman Borlaug’s Green Revolution, which saved millions of lives in Africa and Asia, would not have been possible without precise breeding methods. The reporters quote CBI Expert Bruce Chassy who adds, “all of the animals, plants and microbes we use in our food system, our agricultural system, are genetically modified in one way or another.” Read more.
Researchers in India develop a protein-packed potato
A genetically modified potato that has up to 60 percent more protein than unmodified potatoes and increased levels of amino acids was developed by researchers in India. According to ABC News, the potato uses a gene from the seed of the amaranth plant (a grain crop) to achieve greater levels of protein. More than a billion people worldwide consume potatoes every day, and the modified potato could have positive public health effects by reducing protein deficiency in developing nations. Read more.
This week, a scientific study out of South Africa shows that GM crops could help alleviate food shortages in sub-Saharan Africa and a scientist expresses concern over global food production.
Scientist warns of potential for global famine
In a keynote speech at the Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference, Australian biotechnology expert Julian Cribb warned governments across the globe that a worldwide famine is a possibility and that they must find a way to more than double food production in the next century. According to AOLNews, Cribb considers this potential food shortage to be more pressing than the global financial and climate change crises.
Academy of Science of South Africa report says GM Crops can help alleviate food shortage
A recently released report from the Academy of Science of South Africa shares that “agricultural biotechnology…can be one of the most vital tools for addressing the chronic food shortages in sub-Saharan Africa.” The Academy’s research found that GM crops increase yields, improve the protein content of starchy foods and the biofortification of local foods. Currently South Africa is one of only three countries in the continent growing commercial GM crops. Read more.
Indian farmers adopt flood-tolerant rice at unprecedented rates
IRRI, a rice research institute, has found that Indian farmers are planting flood-tolerant rice at an unprecedented rate. While the rice is not commercially available yet, IRRI is working with governments, nonprofit organizations and public and private organizations to promote and distribute the genetically modified rice to areas prone to flooding. Within one year of release, the submergence-tolerant, high-yielding rice variety has reached more than 100,000 farmers in India. Read more.
McKinsey & Co. released a report that communicates a positive outlook for the future of biofuels, while Sierra Leonean scientist and recipient of the 2004 World Food Prize, Monty Jones, called for more awareness among individuals about genetic engineering and the benefits it can bring to Africa.
State Deparment official Dr. Nina Fedoroff discusses the advantages of genetically modified crops
Fora.tv featured a lecture by Dr. Nina Fedoroff, Science and Technology Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State, titled “Genetically Modified Crops: Monsters or Miracles?” In the lecture Dr. Fedoroff discusses the role that GM foods can play in food security as the population rises to 9 billion. She also addresses the promise of Golden Rice, rice engineered to help the body produce Vitamin A so children do not die or go blind from Vitamin A deficiency, a common problem in the developing world.
Science journal Nature published editorials on the need for a second green revolution to eliminate world hunger by 2050 and how overregulation is slowing down a rice variety than can lower the risk of blindness in children, while the production of a biotech crop in India yields advantages for female employment opportunities and earnings.
“Second green revolution” necessary to eliminate world hunger
A second green revolution with a new focus in agricultural research will be needed to provide enough food for the world’s population in 2050, according to an editorial published by science journal Nature on July 28. In order to achieve a Green Revolution, we will need to invest in high-tech seeds and low-tech farming practices. The editorial was part of Nature’s latest issue where the theme was food and agriculture. READ MORE »
This week we were pleased to see that researchers at Stanford University were finally able to put to rest the argument that conventional farming is bad for the planet. In fact, they found that modern farming REDUCED the amount of greenhouse gases entering the earth’s atmosphere by the end of the 20th century. Other ag biotech news we liked this week:
Study finds that modern farming helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions