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Checkbiotech: Continuing the effort
Posted by: DR. RAUPP & madora (IP Logged)
Date: November 03, 2004 08:04AM ;

Since the emergence of agricultural biotechnology as a bona fide method for
crop improvement, farmers in a growing number of countries have benefited,
some to greater extents than others. The vast majority of farmers that have
used genetically modified or enhanced crops have realized better yields and
increased profits. Simultaneously, there has been reduced use of pesticides
and reduced tillage of the land, with concomitant reductions in consumption
of petroleum products. The environmental and health benefits that accrue
from the use of biotech crops have been documented in many different
settings. Nevertheless, biotechnologists, crop scientists, and economists
all recognize that biotechnology is only one part of the many components
necessary to meet the challenges of sustainable agriculture and food
production for the growing world population, November 2004 by Roger N.
Beachy .

Although the successes of the first generation of biotech crops have been
outstanding, the scientific and commercial worlds of agriculture have seen
only a glimpse of what could be delivered to the farmer, the consumer, and
the environment. Many of us in the plant sciences, agriculture, and
environmental sciences anticipate a future agriculture in which pests and
pathogens are controlled through genetics and biotechnology with reduced use
of agricultural chemicals, a future where drought tolerance in crops reduces
the need for irrigation, and a future where crops produce food that is more
nutritious and safe from mycotoxins and allergens.

To date, agricultural biotechnology has mostly benefited farmers and
consumers in the industrialized countries. It is predicted that by the
middle of this century, nine out of ten human beings will reside in the
world's developing countries. How can the great promise of this new
technology be delivered to these people?

The authors of this volume have focused their reports on technologies that
have increased (or promise to increase) agricultural production in
developing countries. Readers will learn much about the efforts underway in
Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and specifically with regards to the major
crop species cultivated within these regions. Some of the writers describe
the challenges that must be overcome before genetically enhanced crops will
be commercialized in underdeveloped countries. Many of these challenges are
the consequence of lack of scientific preparedness; others are the result of
misinformation and misinterpretation, leading to confusion and
misunderstanding among potential consumers.

It is clear, then, that the work of scientists does not end with discovery
or with product development. Instead, it continues through the training of
the students and postdoctoral researchers who will become leaders of
research teams in developing countries. The work must also continue to
communicate effectively with the public and to describe how and why
biotechnology will be effective to the needs of farmers and the public at
large. As we listen to the questions of the informed and the uninformed, of
the concerned and the cynical, we must find ways to ensure that our work is
directed towards solutions that are relevant to mankind as a whole. When we
succeed in meeting the challenges of increasing the sustainable production
of abundant and safe food, perhaps we can begin the feel the satisfaction of
a job well done, and of knowing that sound science can, in the end, overcome
those who would prefer that the technology fail.


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