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Biotech crops can contribute to alleviating poverty and malnutrition
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp (IP Logged)
Date: October 17, 2005 07:52AM ; ;

As another World Food Day approaches - October 16th - its time to accept the
positive role of GM technologies, October 2005 .

Hunger and poverty are inextricably linked. Today, 825 million people
around the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition. These figures break
down as some 520 million in Asia, 250 million in Africa, 50 million in Latin
America, with the remaining 5 million in the rest of the world. Globally,
60% of those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition are subsistence
farmers, 20% are landless but dependent on farming for their livelihoods and
only 20% are found in urban areas.

Throughout the first decade of using commercialised genetically modified
crops, from 1996 to 2005, it has been consistently documented that GM
technology has made significant contributions to the alleviation of poverty
and malnutrition. In developing countries, 7.5 million farmers planted GM
crops in 2004.

As countries move towards self sufficiency, GM technologies will be an
important tool for farmers in developing countries to respond to population
food needs. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United
Nations celebrates World Food Day every year on 16 October (1). The FAO has
recommended the use of GM crops in developing countries to fight hunger. The
World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that current approved GM crops
are safe for food use.

According to Clive James, Chairman of ISAAA (2), the organisation tracking
the development of hectares under GM crops since 1996, ?there has been
unprecedented rapid double digit growth every single year in the adoption of
this technology. In 2005, we witnessed the planting of the one billionth
acre of GM crops; in 2004, for the first time, more than one third of the
global acreage of GM crops was grown in developing countries by 7.5 million

In a study by PG Economics (3) published Tuesday (October 11) farmers using
the technology increased their income by US$27 billion during the period
1996 to 2004 with significant, additional environmental benefits delivered;
the accumulative economic benefits during the nine years to developing
countries ($15 billion), exceeded benefits to industrial countries ($12

Agriculture and intercultural dialogue is the theme of this year?s FAO World
Food Day campaign. ?The sharing of the significant body of knowledge and
experience that has been accumulated on biotech crops in developing
countries, since their commercialization in 1996, is an essential ingredient
for a transparent and knowledge-based discussion by an informed global
society about the potential benefits that biotech crops offer developing
countries in helping them meet their food, feed and fibre needs,? says Simon
Barber, Director of the Plant Biotechnology Unit at EuropaBio.

(1) About World Food Day

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications
(ISAAA) is a not-for-profit organization that delivers the benefits of new
agricultural biotechnologies to the poor in developing countries. It aims to
share these powerful technologies to those who stand to benefit from them
and at the same time establish an enabling environment for their safe use.

(3) PG Economics
PG Economics Limited is a specialist provider of advisory and consultancy
services to agriculture and other natural resource-based industries. Its
specific areas of specialisation are plant biotechnology, agricultural
production systems, agricultural markets and policy.

(4) EuropaBio
EuropaBio, the European Association for Bioindustries, has 60 members
operating worldwide, and 25 national biotechnology associations representing
some 1500 small and medium sized enterprises involved in research and
development, testing, manufacturing and distribution of biotechnology

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