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SCIENCE & POLICY: ISAAA urges propagation of GE crops to reduce malnutrition, hunger worldwide






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TITLE:  SCIENTIST URGES PROPAGATION OF BIOTECH CROPS TO REDUCE MALNUTRITION, HUNGER WORLDWIDE

SOURCE: Philippine Information Agency, Philippines

AUTHOR: Biolife News Service, Philippines

URL:    http://www.pia.gov.ph/default.asp?m=12&fi=p081216.htm&no=62&r=&y=&mo=

DATE:   16.12.2008

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SCIENTIST URGES PROPAGATION OF BIOTECH CROPS TO REDUCE MALNUTRITION, HUNGER WORLDWIDE

Manila (16 December) -- Agricultural biotechnology will help reduce hunger and malnutrition worldwide, particularly now that the UN?s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that the number of hungry people around the world has increased by 40 million.

Dr. Rhodora Aldemita, senior program officer of the International Service for the Acquisition of AgriBiotech Applications (ISAAA), stressed that biotechnology is a most viable alternative system to boost yields of crops that have been genetically enhanced to provide consumers with adequate nutrients.

Aldemita said agricultural biotechnology has succeeded in increasing yields while reducing dependence on chemical-based fertilizers, pesticides, nematicides, and herbicides.

She revealed that Filipino biotechnologists have already succeeded in arming crops with resistance to pests, like the development of papaya ringspot virus (PRSV)- resistant papaya, the first of its kind in the world.

Many plant scientists have considered papaya as the most nutritious fruit on the planet and have encouraged more people to consume the fruit and thus reduce the incidence of malnutrition.

Among the most successful genetically modified crops in the country is Bacillus thuringiensis (B)t corn, which was introduced in Philippine farms in 2002.

Through advances in plant biotechnology, Aldemita said, it is now more than possible to improve the nutritional quality of food.

Numerous biotechnological studies to improve the nutritional quality of crops have been conducted and Vitamin A rice, or Golden Rice, is one example.

Work is also being done to develop maize with low phytic acid and increased iron absorption, canola and soybean seeds with increased lysine, an essential amino acid usually absent in grains, iron-rich rice with soybean ferritin gene, and potato with increased inulin, a low-calorie fiber for increased mineral absorption and colon-cancer prevention.

Not only does biotechnology increase the nutritional value of a crop, but it also helps in ensuring that the crops reach more people in their best state through the introduction of delayed ripening characteristics.

While food prices have dropped since early 2008, this development has not provided relief to the hungry in many impoverished nations, FAO Assistant Director-General Hafez Ghanem said.

To overcome this situation, FAO is promoting the wider cultivation of better-yielding, nutritious crops in developing nations.

Through access to better farming techniques and increased yield, many impoverished people, millions of whom are actually landless peasants, may be able to produce their own food and thus be spared from the pangs of hunger.


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