Monday, January 24, 2011

GM crops 'could feed the world'

UK Press Assocation: Genetically-modified crops could help prevent a future global hunger crisis, the Government's chief scientific adviser said. Professor Sir John Beddington said there was no one "silver bullet" to the "enormously serious" problem of feeding the world in the future in the face of problems such as climate change, population growth and energy shortages.

He told BBC Breakfast: "If there are genetically modified (GM) organisms that actually solve problems that we can't solve in other ways, and are shown to be safe from a human health point of view, and safe from an environmental point of view, and they can solve problems we can't solve otherwise, then we should use them.

"The sort of problems I am thinking of are new diseases which are likely to come with climate change, problems to do with drought, problems to do with the salination of ground, we need organisms that actually address that."

Sir John was speaking in advance of the publication of a Government-commissioned report warning that urgent action is needed to avert global hunger on a huge scale in the future as factors such as a growing global population, climate change, scarcity of water and energy put massive pressure on food production.

"I don't think we are going to run out (of food) if we get it right, but the point is, we don't have time to actually relax and say things are fine - in 20 years' time, the world population is going to be sky high, demand for food, demand for water, demand for energy, is going to be way up there," he said.
Sir John said there were "many solutions" to preventing a hunger crisis, including using current knowledge of farming techniques to "significantly improve" the productivity of small farmers in Africa…

Over time, selective breeding modifies teosinte's few fruitcases (left) into modern corn's rows of exposed kernels (right). Shot by John Doebley from "Genetically Modified Corn— Environmental Benefits and Risks" Gewin V PLoS Biology Vol. 1, No. 1, e8 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0000008, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license

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