Displaying 1-14 of 14 key documents
Source: International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV)
This report details the proceedings of the 2nd World Seed Conference, held on 8–10 September 2009 at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters, to investigate the role of plant breeding in improving seed quality and crop varieties that are crucial for food security.
The proceedings contain the presentations, discussions and conclusions from a one-day policy forum and the five sessions of the two-day expert forum. Areas covered include the importance of genetic resources for plant breeding, access and benefit sharing; plant variety protection; and the importance of seed quality in agriculture.
The conclusions emphasised the importance of encouraging plant breeding to enable the production and distribution of high-quality seed. Participants highlighted the International Treaty on Plant and Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture as an innovative instrument for achieving food security through conservation and access to genetic resources, and the importance of protecting intellectual property. They also recommended that countries develop the capabilities needed to determine seed quality and certify seed varieties.
The conference was organised by the FAO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, the International Seed Federation and the International Seed Testing Association.
Source: Royal Society | October 2009
Food security is a major challenge in global health. Agriculture will need a significant boost if we are to feed the expected global population of nine billion people in 2050. This detailed report outlines the case for 'sustainable intensification'.
Climate change is already putting pressure on existing agricultural systems and will likely continue to alter rainfall patterns, temperatures and soil quality. But climate change isn't the only culprit — agricultural output has also fallen through growing pesticide resistance and low crop diversity.
The report argues that crop management must take these biological factors into account. But to be sustainable it must also support poor farmers and rural populations. This will require technological approaches underpinned by robust science, says the report.
The authors provide a detailed overview of how climate change will affect food production and the latest genetic techniques available to boost output. No single approach is going to work, and splitting agriculture into different camps — genetically modified or not, for example — will have no traction. The key is to consider the problem holistically and see how different approaches could be combined for the best results.
The report calls for agricultural sciences to be placed at the forefront of innovation, and supports its position in university courses, arguing that if agriculture is to see a revolution, it will need talented scientists.
Source: GeneWatch UK | July 2009
This report from GeneWatch UK describes the use of genetically modified (GM) crops as agrofuels and makes policy recommendations on their use.
Civil society groups have raised concerns over the sustainability of using food supplies to produce biofuel. Industry and government have responded by investing in genetically modified 'second generation' biofuels to try and increase energy output from a broader range of plant sources.
The author says that assessments of GM biofuels must consider their impact on biodiversity, food supply and land use, how much they can realistically reduce carbon emissions and their technical feasibility.
GeneWatch UK recommends an independent appraisal for second-generation GM agrofuels. It suggests that gaps in research and regulation must be addressed, particularly those regarding environmental concerns such as factory waste streams containing GM organisms.
Source: FAO | 2008
This report combines a background paper and summary report from a moderated email conference held by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in March 2007.
The background paper outlines the current and future challenges for water availability. The authors discuss options for dealing with water scarcity, focusing on agricultural water use, and ask how biotechnologies — from microorganisms for pest control to genetically modified crops — can help.
The summary report highlights the consensus among conference participants that biotechnology has a valuable role to play in addressing water scarcity in developing countries.
It presents examples of biotechnologies being used in the developing world, including marker-assisted selection, genetic modification, biofertilisers and wastewater recycling. But the report calls for increased collaboration and interdisciplinary research, as well as more involvement of stakeholders in designing solutions, to help biotechnologies move from the lab to farmers' fields.
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization | January 2007
This report summarises six conferences from the Food and Agriculture Organization's forum on biotechnology in food and agriculture. The background documents for each conference are presented with a summary of the key points raised.
The topics covered include: gene flow; biotechnology's role in developing countries' agricultural research strategies; regulations for genetically modified organisms; molecular marker-assisted selection for improving crop and livestock; and biotechnology applications in food processing and public participation in decision-making.
The report draws together the insights and perspectives of informed individuals from different countries, professions and sectors.
Source: Argentine Council for Information and Development of Biotechnology | December 2006
This report evaluates the impacts of genetically modified (GM) crops in Argentina between 1996 and 2005, alongside wider trends in the country's agriculture and national economy.
The authors calculate the financial benefits of three GM crops — soybeans, maize and cotton — to be over US$20 billion, although they also estimate that about US$2.3 billion is needed to restore soil fertility after soybean cultivation.
They say that introducing GM crops to Argentina resulted in approximately one million new jobs over ten years, and led to lower global soybean prices.
The authors conclude that the benefits of introducing GM crops such as soybeans outweigh the costs.
But they call for public debate and policy intervention to address the environmental problems caused by long-term soybean monocultures, and the risks of depending too heavily on soybean exports.
Source: World Resources Institute | 2005
This report from the World Resources Institute (Washington, DC, USA) examines ways to effectively integrate socio-economic considerations into decision-making and policy frameworks for managing agricultural biotechnology. The report draws on case-study material from Indonesia and the Philippines as well as a range of other sources.
The authors argue that a two-step process is necessary to effectively integrate socio-economic concerns into decision-making processes: effective research in order to clarify the potential socio-economic impacts, followed by practical steps to incorporate these concerns into policy and regulatory processes. They examine a range of research methods that can help to achieve these ends.
The report focuses on the central role of public participation to help identify the socio-economic implications that matter to people. The authors use examples from their research to illustrate the use of various mechanisms to promote and facilitate public involvement. The report ends with a series of specific recommendations for different stakeholder groups, including civil society groups, scientists, the biotechnology industry and governments.
This thorough report introduces and summarises the key issues in a concise and accessible manner. Policy makers, research scientists and non-governmental organisations will find it especially valuable.
Source: Economic Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture | May 2005
This article summarises the findings of a study undertaken by US-based academics at the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture and the State University of New Jersey. The authors analysed data on the impact of the adoption of genetically modified Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) maize on corn production in seven southern African countries: Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The report discusses the importance of corn in southern African farming and diets and describes the process of adoption of Bt corn, which was slow at first.
The study found that both large and small-scale farmers who planted Bt cotton benefited in terms of increased yields and reduced pesticide applications, although it was impossible to quantify the latter advantage in relation to smallholders. Small farmers said that they liked the quality of the Bt corn varieties.
The report goes on to estimate the potential impact of improved corn yield on food security in the region. The authors conclude by discussing possible measures that might encourage small farmers to adopt the new varieties.
Source: ISAAA | 2004
This annual report reviews global biotech areas by country, crop and trait. It identifies the top 14 'mega-countries' (there were ten in 2003), nations growing 50,000 hectares, or more, of biotech crops. It notes that during 2004 the absolute growth in biotech crop area was, for the first time, higher for developing countres (7.2 million hectares) than for industrial countries (6.1 million hectares).
The review points out that the increased hectarage and impact of the five principal developing countries (China, India, Argentina, Brazil and South Africa) has implications for the future adoption and acceptance of biotech crops worldwide, and it provides full overviews for each of the five countries.
This review comes from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), whose stated objective is 'to provide information and knowledge to the scientific community and society re biotech/GM crops, to facilitate a more informed and transparent discussion re their potential role in contributing to global food, feed and fibre security, and more sustainable agriculture'.
Source: PG Economics | November 2004
The French, Spanish and UK authors of this report examine the implications of growing GM and non-GM maize in proximity and conclude that co-existence of these crops can be achieved by applying "a few simple measures". The report contains field data and literature surveys of co-existence studies and explores issues such as pollen movement, viability and the potential for cross-pollination. It also describes measures currently used in North America and Spain to minimise the adventitious presence of GM maize in a non-GM crop.
The report concludes that good farming practices and normal harvesting procedures alone are adequate to reach the 99.1 % purity threshold set by the 2004 EU labelling legislation. Additional measures, such as buffer zones and increased separation distances reduce further the probability of GM presence to "minute levels". This, the authors conclude, means that GM, conventional and organic maize producers can co-exist and maintain the integrity of their crops.
Importantly, the data used in this report originate from both commercial planting as well as research plots. This report will be of interest to people concerned about co-existence; it will be valuable to those involved in regulation and policy-making, and it will be of practical help to agriculturalists.
Source: Australian Board of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) | October 2003
The authors of this report, from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), assess the likely socio-economic and environmental issues of adopting biotechnology. They conclude that some of the poorest regions of the world stand to gain the most by the technology, through higher yields, better nutrition and helping to develop crops that are better adapted to local conditions.
The report stresses the importance and value of cost-benefit analyses, and the need to consider technologies on a case-by-case basis. As well as outlining specific developments in agricultural biotechnology, the authors argue the cases for and against its use, and assess the potential economic impacts. Issues currently facing developing countries with regard to GM crops include the need for a sound regulatory system, trade impacts and intellectual property rights.
This report gives a general overview relating to GM crops in developing countries, with more emphasis on the socio-economic agenda than many other reports of this nature. It will be of specific interest to those focussing on the financial and trade impacts of GM crops for developing countries.
Source: The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) | 2002
This report follows a survey of seven countries of West and Central Africa, assessing the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for the application of biotechnology in the subregion. Sponsored by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, the original survey led to a second, more in-depth study, funded by the West and Central African Centre for Agricultural Research and Development (WECARD), to analyse the capacity to apply agri-biotechnology for food security in West and Central Africa.
The report considers issues such as biotechnology research capacity, personnel base and infrastructure support services, along with levels of public awareness of biotechnology and biosafety. The author of the report recommends focussing on existing strengths in Senegal, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire to help with biotechnology training, as well as addressing specific problems that require high-level research capacity.
This report was submitted for a stakeholders’ workshop to define the priorities for a regional framework of action in biotechnology and biosafety. It will be of interest to those involved in setting agendas and capacity building.
Source: GM Science Review Panel (UK) | January 2004
The GM Science Review formed one element of the UK government’s “national dialogue” on GM issues, which took place in 2003. The Science Review aimed to provide a summary of the (then) current scientific knowledge about GM crops, and fed directly into the UK government’s decision-making process on the commercialisation of GM crops. This, supplementary Second Report of the GM Science Review Panel, is a comprehensive literature review. It was co-authored by a panel of 22 selected specialists, ranging from plant breeders to environmental scientists.
The aim of the review was to ensure that policy-makers were informed about the best scientific evidence available. The panel was given a specific brief to highlight the remaining areas of uncertainty in scientific understanding of GM crops. The panel concludes that there is no scientific case for an outright ban on the commercial cultivation of GM crops in the UK, but neither do they find evidence to support a blanket approval. Instead, the panel recommends that new crops should be analysed on a case-by-case basis prior to commercial approval.
This report is a valuable summary of the state of scientific knowledge relating to the cultivation of GM crops, and is especially of interest to anyone who needs to refer to the fundamental research.
Source: Nuffield Council on Bioethics | May 1999
This authoritative report considers the ethical and social issues which are raised by the development and application of GM plant technology in world agriculture and food security. The authors discuss the scientific background and techniques used in genetic modification, the potential of GM crops, commercial and legal considerations, implications for the developing world, consumer concerns, environmental concerns and regulation and policy issues. Chapter 4 considers in detail the potential impact of GM crops on developing countries, concluding that there is a moral imperative for making GM crops readily and economically available to developing countries that want them. Valuable reading for anyone interested in a rational debate on the potential impact of GM crops.