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Agriculture in the 21st Century
May 9, 2008 |
Genetics News
According to the position of many experts, agriculture across the world is facing a trend reversal: Global food stocks are nearly used up, climate change can lead to significant yield losses in certain regions and the prices for staple foods are rising worldwide.

In addition, competition between the cultivation of renewable raw materials (fuel, synthetics, etc.) and the production of foods keeps increasing.

To feed the ever growing world population, existing areas should be cultivated more efficiently. A further expansion of agricultural areas, according to expert opinion, would inevitably be at the expense of sub natural areas, which are essential to the preservation of biodiversity on our planet.

In this situation the question is which technologies could contribute towards solving these problems, which are socially accepted and which – based on scientific findings – are suitable from a technological and long-term ecological aspect.

GMO Compass cannot and does not want to give definitive answers to these questions. Obviously we, as editors of GMO Compass, had the recent polls on this subject in mind when we decided to initiate an online survey regarding food security and environmental protection. A survey carried out by Emnid in Germany shows that the reservations against agricultural genetic engineering were reduced if the global food crisis was eased through GM plants. Subsequently, 56% of the respondents were prepared to eat genetically modified plants if the global food situation could be improved thereby.

With a quick survey on the European consumer portal GMO Compass, we wanted to capture the opinions on this subject on a larger scale. We asked whether European agriculture should make use of all available technologies – including genetic engineering and biotechnology – if negative effects on the environment could be ruled out and positive effects on world nutrition were possible as a result. Of the 5435 ballots cast in the past 5 days, 83.9% voted for the utilisation of all technologies.

Regarding the question whether genetically modified plants should at least be taken into consideration as an option to achieving an increase in yields and yield stability possible whilst protecting the environment at the same time was supported by the majority of participants (84.3%). Equally, plants should – in principle – be adapted to environmental conditions, as for example drought, or improved in respect of their nutrition-physiological qualities. Only 10.5% voted against this option.

From emails received in response to our survey, it was apparent that the subject agricultural genetic engineering – as a building block to an improved world nutrition and a reduction of environmental impact – continues to require intense social discussion.

Questions, such as "Is genetic engineering an acceptable option" or "Which specific applications of genetic engineering in agriculture may find consensus" will play a crucial role in these future discussions.

The survey is certainly not representative enough and merely gave us a momentary picture of public opinion. However, we do see evidence that the mood is changing. People are aware of global challenges and the need to react to them appropriately.

What is the editorial team of GMO-Compass planning on the website www.gmo-compass.org in the future?

GMO Compass will accompany and stimulate the discussions on GM-technologies in Europe . We will pick up and mirror scientifically proven facts in biotechnology and genetically modified plants, but we also will pay strong attention to risks, threats and misgivings – whether real or as perceived by the public.

GMO-Compass will provide an arena in which to show and report on results and proven findings of scientists. We strongly believe that public interest and scientific findings need to be interconnected to adequately support the process of social decision making.

We, the GMO Compass team, would like to thank all participants in the snapshot poll. The strong response to our "quick survey" overwhelmed us.

Source: GMO Compass
© 2008 by GMO Compass |
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