Biotech crops show global promise but suffer from restrictive regulations

A paper by Calestous Juma and Katherine Gordon at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs argues that although many transgenic crops are still in their early states of adoption and even more are being tested and developed, emerging trends show significant societal benefits through positive economic impact (especially by raising farm incomes), fostering food security, and promoting environment sustainability.

Agricultural biotechnology has the potential to increase production on existing arable land; reduce losses related to pests, disease, and drought; increase access to food through higher farm incomes; raise nutrition levels; and promote sustainable agriculture. The pipeline includes crops with potential benefits such as enhanced photosynthesis, stress tolerance, aluminum tolerance, salinity tolerance, pest and disease resistance, nitrogen use efficiency, phosphate use efficiency, and nitrogen fixation.

Transgenic crops have recorded the fastest adoption rate of any crop technology in the last century. This is mainly because of the benefits that they confer to farmers, most of whom reside in developing countries.

Restrictive regulations, however, are undermining the ability of society to reap these benefits.

Advances in biotechnology research can only be translated into societal benefits with the help of enabling policy environments. More important, regulatory processes need to be brought in line with the state of knowledge on the benefits and risks of biotechnology.

Here is the full paper: Taking Root: Global Trends in Agricultural Biotechnology.

Read full original post: Taking Root: Global Trends in Agricultural Biotechnology