Do We Need Genetically Modified Foods to Feed the World?

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Transcript Do We Need Genetically Modified Foods to Feed the World?

Do We Need Genetically Modified Foods to
Feed the World?
A Scientific Perspective
Peggy G. Lemaux, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley
Some Limitations on Biotechnology Applications
in DEVELOPED Countries
Scientific hurdles
Intellectual property rights
Regulatory costs
Economic incentives
Limited ability of public sector to
participate effectively
Some Limitations on Biotechnology Applications
in DEVELOPING Countries
Legal issues
Scientific and infrastructure insufficiencies
Unique political and economic hurdles
Societal inequalities
Lack of funding for public sector to
participate effectively
“Complex problems of hunger and agricultural
development will not be solved by technological
silver bullets”
Peter Rosset, Food First
Agricultural biotechnology is
more than just GMOs
Marker-assisted breeding led to new millet
hybrid with downy mildew resistance
Tissue Culture Used To Remove
Diseases of Banana in Philippines
Tissue cultured banana
plantation in Philippines
PCR for pest disease detection
for bananas and papaya
Productivity: Evidence
for Bt Cotton Gains
Bt cotton in:
• United States: yield effect 0 – 15%
• China: yield effect 10%
• South Africa: yield effect 20%-40%
• India: yield effect 60 – 80 %
Won’t intellectual property issues interfere?
SOURCE: David Zilberman (UC Berkeley), Gregory Graff (UC Berkeley), Matin Qaim (University of Bonn)
and Cherisa Yarkin (UC Berkeley)
Insect Resistant Maize for Africa - IRMA
Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture
GE crops will not address small farmers’ needs
Only large agrochemical companies will benefit
Farmers will be dependent; seed diversity will be lost
Environmental risks - gene flow, insect resistance
Insufficiency of biosafety regulations
Should African farmers and consumers make
their own decisions on these issues?
How?
Participatory Rural Appraisals
Involving 900 Kenyan farmers from 43 villages
IRMA with Kenyan regulatory system did tests on
corn for Bt-medicated stem borer resistance in
laboratories and soon in biosafety greenhouses
Patent issues do not preclude local use
Bt maize can be commercialized locally
Bt is dominant; seed can be recycled; moved into
local varieties
Bt maize
NO MAGIC BULLET
Is this the
only way to
address the
problems?
No, problems
are different
Different ecology
Different health
issues
Different agronomic
limitations
Sorghum – a
staple food
in parts of
Africa
USAID grant to
address
nutritional
deficiencies
Digestibility
Amino acid
imbalance
Are there
potential
problems?
Intellectual
property rights?
Releasing GE
varieties near wild
relatives or weeds?
Working with U.S.
and African
sorghum breeders
Why did I become
involved?
Part of my mandate
as public sector
scientist and CE
specialist
Is this the only answer?
Is this the best answer?
No, but it is something
I want to and can do!