This is my presentation at Georgetown University today March 31, 2014 on B”Biotechnology and Developing Countries”.
In my presentation I highlight the implications on inovation due to biosafety regulatory costs and time delays especially for developing countries organizatiosn working on public goods. You can find more information on the conference GMCC-13, the sixth International Conference on Coexistence between Genetically Modified (GM) and non-GM based Agricultural Supply Chains here:GMCC 13 click here
Here are two presentations which in mind are AHA presentations.
One is by Professor David Hughes, Emeritus, Imperial College on “Feeding a Hungry World: Who will be the Winners and Losers in the Global Food Industry”
Second is by Charlie Arnot from the Center for Food Integrity “Values, Trust and Science – Building Trust in an Age of Radical Transparency and Unbridled Social Media” http://www.abic.ca/abic2013/PDF/SPEAKER_PRESENTATION/CharlieArnot.pdf
Interesting thinking here. Prof. Hughes makes the point that the food, feed and fiber production system AND the value added chain, has changed and will continue to change. Science and policy need to change in order to address issues that this change will bring over time. On the other hand, Mr. Charlie Arnot presentation emphasizes the fact that in order for science to become effective again it urgently needs to gain the trust of society in an era of social media and unbridled transparency.
A report released by CAST (Council for Agricultural Science and Technology).
This paper looks at the history and purpose of the precautionary principle (PP) and examines problems of ambiguity, arbitrary application, and bias against new technologies. Because the publication is especially focused on the need to feed a growing population, the case studies center on agricultural issues such as pesticide use, genetically modified foods, and food irradiation. The authors state that the PP has played an important part in bringing attention to appropriate risk management. If it is applied in its more stringent formulations, however, the PP will suppress innovation, to the detriment of both the economy and human health. Chair: Gary Marchant, Arizona State University. IP52, June 2013, 20 pp.
Task Force Chair
Task Force Author(s)
Task Force Reviewers
|Andy La Vigne|
There is no doubt in my mind that we need to invest now in science, technology and innovation policies and activities when faced with a much more complex and challenging future.
The future of agriculture as a biomass producing system will be even more complex as we face more challenges from increased climate change variability, increased urbanization and population growth, changes in human diets, decreased availability of water and soil for production, increasing environmental concerns including the need to protect fragile eco-systems, amongst many other challenges.
The future is now. For the first time in many decades, we have consumed more food than we are producing, three years in a row. This is just a reflection of declining production and productivity performance for most major crops and animal production systems, but also a reflection of the other demand factors which are affecting the biomass production system.
I see with great preoccupation, multiple attempts by different stakeholders pushing to reduce the standard of excellence for science, peer review and broadening the definition of how can one define an “expert” in a specific issue.
These same forces seem to be pushing taking science, technology and innovation out of the sustainable development equation – in some cases making it the enemy of such process- and to focus on an allegedly “simpler” production approaches that border on the older pastoral arguments that agriculture exists in an idealized bucolic state of nature, as if one approach would suffice to feed the world.
Nothing can be farther from the truth. We cannot and should not focus on one approach, rather we need to take a pragmatic approach where we carefully evaluate what works and discard what doesn’t. We cannot rely on ideology, rather we need -now more than ever- science, technology and innovation to help us separate the chaff from the wheat using robust assessment and analytical approaches.
We have to think in terms of integration and in many cases co-existence, so that we make agriculture as intelligent and innovative as possible, using as many knowledge tools as we can get a hold.
The new agricultural knowledge frontier starts with the farmer, the person who makes the productive decisions and ends with the consumer, who decides what to buy. Our past focus on farmers
only, will likely fail as this is a new environment.
I reiterate my support for science, technology and innovation policies and investments focused on solving the problems of hunger and poverty
In the blog Applied Mythology you can find an interesting discussion on the complex issue of increased pesticide use and biotechnology adoption. I concur with the author S.D. Savage (to view his blog article please click here) in that one needs to really analyze the issue in greater detail than what has been done in some studies out there. In the special edition of AgBioForum, an article by Zambrano and colleagues hightlights some of these issues for the specific case of Bolivia and HT soybeans. You can find the article in the special issue of AgBioForum here
Mr. Savage conclusions at the end of the article are quite compelling. I reproduce them here textually.
To reiterate, pesticide use or its increase are not automatically undesirable things. It depends on what is the alternative and what is the nature of the particular pesticide in question. Plant biotechnology is just one important tool in the bigger tool box of agriculture. Sometimes it allows farmers to use a more attractive pesticide option (Bt Sweet Corn would the be best example of this). Sometimes it helps them with the adoption of sustainable practices that depend on relatively low risk herbicides. For farmers, biotechnology and pesticides are not an either/or. They are often partners.
Presentation “Socio-economic considerations of GM crops in the context of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety-CBD” by Jose Falck-Zepeda made at the European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute of Prospective Technical Sutdies (EC-JRC-IPTS) and FAO international workshop on socio-economic impacts of GMO crops, 23-24 November 2011, Seville, Spain.
You can download the presentation here Jose Falck-Zepeda presentation at EC-JRC-IPTS workshop Seville November 23-24 2011