Biotechnology, Agriculture, Health, Environment, and Technology news coverage from events in, about and on Africa.
Agricultural Biotechnologies: Giving voice to family farmers' needs and concerns
FAO is committed to
bring the debate on agricultural biotechnologies to regions and family farmers
from around the world to improve knowledge, build trust and achieve some level
of consensus, the UN agency's Director-General José Graziano da Silva said
He was speaking at the
closure of an international symposium on agricultural biotechnologies hosted by
FAO, which debated the potential of new biotechnologies, "low-tech and
high-tech" to benefit family farmers, especially those in developing
"Responding to the
urgent and diverse challenges of the 21st century will require
a combination of responses," Graziano said.
"No one single tool, technology or
approach will provide a complete solution. "We have unlocked the door to
discuss and analyse how agroecology and biotechnology can live together and be
used as complementary options. This is an outstanding achievement,"
Graziano da Silva told symposium participants. "It opens a window of
opportunity for the development of new technologies that could make
agricultural sectors more sustainable in the future. We also agreed that tools
and approaches must be useful and accessible for all farmers."
"Now FAO has to
move forward. We intend to bring the debate to a regional perspective. We want
to hear from farmers of all regions about their needs and concerns," he
"I have also taken
note of concerns regarding intellectual property rights and patents," he
said. "This is also a key issue for FAO, these concerns are
legitimate." The Director-General announced that the issue will be
discussed at FAO's upcoming regional conferences.
About 500 scientists,
representatives of government, civil society, the private sector, academia,
farmers' associations and cooperatives took part in the symposium discussing
agricultural biotechnologies much broader than genetically modified organisms.
biotechnologies encompass an array of techniques that
can result in yield increases, better nutritional qualities, and improved
productivities of crops, livestock, fish and trees, benefitting family farmers
while helping to transform food systems so that they require fewer inputs and
have much less negative environmental impacts.
These include for
example fermentation processes, bio-fertilizers, artificial insemination, the
production of vaccines, disease diagnostics, the development of bio-pesticides
and the use of molecular markers in developing new varieties and breeds.
The agenda included a
high-level ministerial segment and a special webinar interactive session
involving students from several universities from around the world.
During the symposium the
FAO Director-General also met a civil society delegation to hear some of their
priorities and concerns on the topic of agricultural biotechnologies.