Published 20 March 2013
José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) was in Uganda recently to exchange ideas with policy-makers on ways to ensure food security and reduce poverty in Uganda by supporting rural smallholders in the country’s agriculture sector. Below Business Vision shares some of his thoughts on the topic in this interview [...]
Do you think Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are a solution to challenges of low productivity in Uganda?
FAO welcomes scientific and technological research that can help to improve or increase food production. GMOs are an option that needs to be explored and can contribute to food security. FAO supports a science-based evaluation system that would help to weigh the benefits and the risks of each GMO before it is incorporated into a food production system. At the global level, it is important that countries agree to standards and norms on GMOs, for instance with regards to food labeling for consumers.
But the decision of whether a country should adopt or not GMOs is not a decision that FAO can make, it is the responsibility of each government. FAO’s role is to support them, as requested, so they can make sound decisions and build capacities so that they are in position to regulate the use of GMOs if they decide to use it. We have worked with the Government of Uganda on this issue.
But are GMOs necessary?
As things stand now, there are many other technologies - conventional technologies – that have already been successful, but which poor farmers don’t even have access to. These are technologies that could lead to significant increases in food production.
But we cannot afford not to explore this possibility. Generally speaking, in the future, we will need all the resources we can make use of, and this may include GMOs, because we cannot be sure at this point in time what will happen with increasing temperatures and climate change.