Pocket guide to GM crops and policies
Agriculture faces serious challenges in the years ahead — from a rapidly growing global population that needs to be fed, to challenges from climate change and the demand for a more sustainable production. This will put an increasing strain on the world’s food and water supply, the availability of arable land and the preservation of biodiversity.
Agricultural productivity is back on the political agenda and there is a pressing need for new technologies in agriculture to help those at the sharp end of the global food challenge. Developed and developing countries both need all available tools to increase productivity and help fight global food insecurity, while minimising negative impacts on the environment.
The technologies offered by crop science and genetic engineering have a long history of improving agricultural production and will play a critical role in addressing the challenges of today and tomorrow. Genetically modified (GM) crops are not the only answer, but their potential to reduce inputs like land, water, energy and pesticides and at the same time increase yields, makes them an attractive option for sustainable and productive farming.
For 17 years GM crops have been increasingly cultivated and consumed world-wide. Concerns about possible negative effects on health and the environment have proven to be unfounded. The commercialisation of biotech crops started in 1996. In 2012, 17.3 million farmers planted GM crops on 170.3 million hectares around the world. Scientists, political leaders and farmers have become increasingly vocal in calling for rational debate based on scientific data and years of practice in the field.
This guide serves as an overview of the global experience of agricultural biotechnology and provides fact-based information to policymakers, journalists and the wider public.