GM crops: cheap food vs. consumer fears
Written by Stephanie Price, Journalist
By 2050 world food demand will be 2.5 billion tonnes more than present day. Next year alone we need a 72 billion tonne increase in the current supply, if we don’t reach this then food prices are going to rise dramatically said Pablo Adreani, owner of AgriPAC Consultores SRL.
“Increasing area is not enough to increase production, we need to increase yields, who will supply these yield increases? Technology will,” Mr Adreani said.
“We have potentially many opportunities to work with improved technologies but we simply have to wait for acceptance,” Peter-Erik Ywema, General Manager of Sustainable Agriculture Initiative, said.
There is no evidence GM cropping is dangerous, the DNA code is universal and global, it is all the same genetic code that you are transferring from one species to another, one delegate added.
“Safety is really not an issue,” he said.
“If the science tells us its safe then it’s more about perception and the industry needs to work on that,” Ketil Bohn, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Agrinos, said.
David Watson, Head of Arable Operations at Co-operative Farms, also spoke at the event.
“With GMO you can’t ignore consumer views,” he said.
“It comes back to the industry educating and informing the public about what agriculture is all about.”
However, in some countries consumers have already adapted to GMO technologies.
“In Argentina consumers aren’t afraid of new technologies, they are more concerned about the price,” Pablo Adreani said.
“South America is the only place in the world where soy beans can be produced competitively now.”
Ketil Bohn put forward a different solution, explaining that we can increase yields in other ways, such as improving traditional farming practices.
An average of 4.3 tonnes of rice is produced in Indonesia over 13 million hectares, however, enough mineral fertilizer is used that could produce 11 tonnes. They are not achieving this figure because they don’t know how to use magnesium to reach this potential Mr Bohn said.
“Yes we need to increase yield, but in my mind we also need to start thinking about quality.”
What are your views on genetically modified (GM) technology? Is it necessary for feeding the rapidly increasing population or should we be focusing on improving sustainability in traditional farming practices?