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Jun 1, 2009

Pontifical Academy of Sciences Hosts Conference on GE Crops and the Developing World

In May 2009, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS) met for a week-long academic seminar to discuss biotechnology and development. The seminar and its subsequent report are entitled Transgenic Plants for Food Security in the Context of Development.   This concluded that biotechnology based on “scientific principles” does offer a hope for resolving the world food crisis if it is properly utilized.

The PAS seminar was broken into 8 sessions that looked at:

  1. Contributions from Transgenic Plants
  2. State of Application of the Technology
  3. Potential Impact on Development
  4. Putative Risk and Risk Management
  5. Biofuels Must Not Compete with Food
  6. Hurdles Against Effective Use for the Poor
  7. Ways to Overcome these Hurdles
  8. Adjusting Regulation to Accumulated Experience and Knowledge

The introduction to the report serves as an overview. It was written Ingo Potrykus, the principal scientist who worked on the vitamin enhanced biotech rice crop, Golden Rice. He notes,

“The huge potential of plant biotechnology to produce more, and more nutritive, food for the poor will be lost if GMO-regulation is not changed from being driven by ‘extreme precaution’ principles to being driven by ‘science-based’ principles."

"Changing societal attitudes, including the regulatory processes involved, is extremely important if we are to save biotechnology, in its broadest applications, for the poor, so that public institutions in developing as well as industrialised countries can harness its power for good.”
Sources: Pontifical Academy of Sciences, ""Transgenic Plants for Food Security in the Context of Development." Vatican City, Italy: Pontifical Academy of Sciences, May 2009.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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