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3-Food: GE crops downrated from "panacea" and "silver bullet" to"crucial element" in hunger fight

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TITLE:  GM crops "crucial to meeting soaring world food demands"
SOURCE: Irish Independent, by Aideen Sheehan
DATE:   11 Sep 2004 

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GM crops "crucial to meeting soaring world food demands"

IRISH INDEPENDENT via NewsEdge Corporation: THE use of genetic
modification will be a crucial element in feeding the world's soaring
population, an Agricultural Science Association conference in Waterford
was told yesterday.

Humans will consume twice as much food in the next 50 years as in the
whole history of civilisation, as the population rises 50pc, but the
amount of agricultural land falls by two-thirds, said Dr Clive James of
the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications.

GM technology was not a panacea or a silver bullet to meet increasing
food demands, but it had to be part of the solution, he said.

Some seven million farmers now grow GM crops on 70m hectares of land - 10
times as much as Ireland's total land area - since the technology was
introduced on a commercial basis eight years ago, Dr James said.

The US, Argentina and Canada are the biggest growers of GM crops, but
around 30pc of all GM crops are now grown in developing countries.

There were concerns about corporate ownership of GM technology, but China
was set to become the biggest public investor in such biotechnology.

GM technology had doubled crop productivity in some areas where it was
grown and it had a beneficial environmental impact by reducing the need
for pesticides to be used, as well as reducing the amount of land that
had to be cleared for cultivation and stopping soil erosion.

Dr James's organisation is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to
provide biotechnology to developing countries. It is supported by
philanthropic organisations, aid agencies and the private sector,
including agri-giant Monsanto. The acreage of GM crops grown is expected
to increase by 50pc in the next five years, with Russia, Hungary, Chile,
Bolivia, Paraguay, Pakistan and Malaysia expected to be major users, Dr
James said.

But the industry had done a lousy job in communicating the risks and
benefits of GM technology, he said. The most significant pollutant in the
world today was poverty, yet GM crops had already helped to increase
income in countries where they were used.


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