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Crop Biotech Update

Former US Secretary of State Advisor Says GM Technology Safe, Most Critical to Food Security

August 26, 2015

In a review article published recently in the peer-reviewed, open access journal Agriculture & Food Security, Nina Fedoroff, former adviser to the US Secretary of State, has emphasized the safety and importance of genetically modified (GM) crops to global food security.

Fedoroff warns of the detrimental influence of politics and misinformation on the safety of GM crops, saying that "GM crops are arguably the safest new crops ever introduced into the human and animal food chains." She argued that "The overwhelming evidence is that the GM foods now on the market are as safe, or safer, than non-GM foods."

In the article, Fedoroff explains that the human population has increased sevenfold during the past two centuries, with an anticipated 2-3 billion more in the 21st century. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that food production has to increase by 70% by 2050 to meet such demand. To this, Fedoroff said that current yield growth trends are insufficient to keep up with the growing demand, and more crops must be grown with the same amount of land using less water, energy, and chemicals. "The molecular genetic revolution of the late 20th century that powered the development of precise GM methods is the most critical technology for meeting these challenges," she added.

Fedoroff also discussed the impact of climate change on agriculture and missed opportunities in using GM technology to address global malnutrition. She also highlighted positive stories on GM crop adoption, citing studies showing that more than 90% of farmers growing biotech crops today are smallholder, resource-poor farmers, concluding that, over 20 years, GM crops have reduced pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22% and increase farmers' profits by 68%. She said, "The simple reasons that farmers migrate to GM crops are that their yields increase and their costs decrease."

For more details, read the open access review article "Food in a future of 10 billion" in the Agriculture and Food Security journal.