Genes against hunger
Published on 2 February 2013 by Emilio de Benito
(Translated from the original article in Spanish)
“Biotechnology is a key tool to ensure the future feeding of the planet. Cooperation with poor countries should be, above all, scientific and not only economic.”
The Spanish daily El País featured an article that explores the connection between biotechnology and fight against hunger. Fighting hunger has always been part of history, but the ways to address it depends on the knowledge available at each period of time.
To ensure the capacity to feed the 9 billion people living on our planet by 2050, we have to use all the tools available and biotechnology is one of them. A conference entitled Cooperation in biotechnology against hunger (29-20 January in Madrid), organised by Ramón Areces Foundation and EuroBioLatina Foundation, reflected these facts. Its participants concluded that science today allows for a permanent solution to the problem.
Still, technology is not everything. Alfredo Aguilar, ex-director of the Biotechnology Unit of the European Commission, said that the problem with hunger is not scientific, but political. For this reason, the EuroBioLatina Foundation sought collaboration with the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and not with the one of External Affairs, which deals with more traditional ways of development issues.
Biotechnology has plenty of applications and its uses in agriculture are not anything new – farmers have always tried to create and select better plant species. Biotechnology accelerates this process. Its advantages can be incorporated even in countries of less scientific development because they have the knowledge of the local land and plant varieties.
The article concludes by paraphrasing words of Lent liturgy, “we are genes, and in genes we will convert”.