To GM or not to GM?

Beans at the CIAT gene bank in Colombia, which has just sent its latest consignments of seeds for conservation at the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway. Pic by Neil Palmer (CIAT).

The UK's chief scientists, Sir John Beddington, has said that no technological option be left untried in the effort to enhance agricultural productivity and improve food security for the world's growing population. This includes genetically modified crops, which Beddington said, are "no silver bullet," but their use must be justified in light of the problem the world faces: "water shortages and salination of existing water supplies, for example. GM crops should be able to deal with that."

A recent AlertNet analysis pulls together the various threads of the issue, citing key reports  from our colleagues at IFPRI and FAO, and innovations in breeding from CIMMYT.

Developing “climate-ready crops”, as they are often called, will be essential to avoid production declines in the face of more extreme weather conditions, and to feed a growing global population in the coming decades.

There are many obstacles, including poor public opinion on GMOs in the North and the South, a monopoly of patent-holders, and of course, isolating the right genetic traits for the right conditions.


Africa flirts with GM technology in rush for climate-ready crops by Megan Rowling - AlertNet. 18 February 2011.