Biotech Updates

Conclusions of the Study Week on Biotech Crops and Food Security hosted by the PAS

December 3, 2010

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, (PAS) Study Week from 15-19 May 2009, organized by Dr. Ingo Potrykus addressed the important issue of "Transgenic Plants for Food Security in the context of Development." The following were some of the principal conclusions endorsed by the participants, in which the Vatican was not involved:
  • enhance the provision of reliable information to regulators, and producers to facilitate sound decision-making based on current knowledge;
  • standardize and rationalize the principles involved in the evaluation and approval of new crop varieties irrespective of the breeding process (genetically engineered [GE] or conventional) so that they are scientific, risk-based, predictable and transparent;
  • re-evaluate the application of the precautionary principle to GE crops using scientific prediction as a basis for action;
  • evaluate the Cartagena Protocol, to ensure that it is consistent with current scientific understanding;
  • free GE techniques from excessive and unscientific regulation to facilitate the enhancement of crop productivity and nutrition;
  • promote technology to assist small farmers to optimize crop productivity;
  • encourage the wide adoption of sustainable productive practices to improve the lives of the poor and needy;
  • ensure that appropriate GE and molecular marker-assisted breeding are used to improve crops grown in food-insecure, poor nations;
  • encourage international aid agencies and charities to take urgent action to provide support and exercise moral responsibility to guarantee food security;
  • facilitate private-public cooperative relationships to ensure the cost-free exploitation of GE technologies for the common good in the developing world where they will have the greatest impact.
These are very important conclusions. More information can be obtained from the following link with 31 scientific contributions, including the conference statement given in all the major languages, published jointly by Elsevier in New Biotechnology vol. 27/5 and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: For the Summary, see The list of participants can be seen at: The open source papers in New Biotechnology, and the front page of the volume, which will soon go to print and can be viewed at
For questions, address the organizer of the study week Prof. Ingo Potrykus, or the managing editor Prof. Klaus Ammann, who will provide appropriate addresses for interviews.