Experts Highlight Ag-biotech‚??s Role to Achieve Europe‚??s Food Security Goals
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp
Date: February 14, 2023 11:44AM
In an article published in¬†Trends in Biotechnology, Polish scientists emphasized the need for Europe to use modern biotechnologiy¬†tools like genetic modifications¬†(GM) and genome editing¬†to ensure food security in the region, especially with the ongoing threat of the COVID-19¬†pandemic and conflict in Ukraine.
The article aligns the European Green Deal set to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050 with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of 2015. One of the targets of SDG is to decrease food loss and waste. The experts are proposing to move beyond the traditional four-pillar framework of security, i.e., availability, access, utilization, and stability, to a six-dimensional framework instead, which incorporates agency and sustainability. This will entail new solutions in agriculture to improve productivity and reduce food waste, and genome editing is one of the proposed solutions.
GM and genome-edited¬†crops have the potential to lower both pesticide use and soil damage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The crops also display traits of disease, herbicide, and stress resistance, and are high in nutritional quality. Modern ag-biotech tools have the ability to increase crop productivity without expanding the farm footprint. All these benefits have been supported by numerous scientific studies, and it is undeniable that GM crops¬†are likely to make critical contributions to food security and adaptation to Climate change. Modern biotechnology represents unique applications of science that is beneficial to society, and its strengths outweigh the weaknesses and opportunities surpass threats.
However, experts stressed that all these benefits could only be utilized with the support from governments to help set up an updated regulatory framework. They suggested designing a policy to support all dimensions of food security to increase the resilience of food systems because the full potential of genome editing cannot be realized if the European Commission decides to set up a regulatory framework that will instead ban the technology.
Modern biotech products can potentially contribute to sustainable agri-food systems that are parallel to European Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy. The experts are urging the authorities to act accordingly to meet the urgent food security challenges by supporting programs that promote long-term resilience or face damaging consequences that will be felt across borders.
Agricultural biotechnology for sustainable food security: Trends in Biotechnology (cell.com)