WASHINGTON (May 17, 2004) - Dr. Michael J. Phillips, vice president for food and agriculture, science and regulatory policy, of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement in response to a new report issued today by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, "The State of Food and Agriculture 2003-04."
"Today's report from the United Nations confirms the promise and importance of agricultural biotechnology to fight hunger and raise the standard of living for millions of people in developing nations. The FAO calls on the tools of biotechnology's 'gene revolution' to advance agricultural practices beyond the impact of the green revolution of the '50s and '60s to meet the food, feed and fiber needs of today's growing population.
"For centuries humans have faced the challenge of feeding people through conventional crop breeding; but the urgency of a population expanding by 2 billion in the next 30 years calls for the accelerated tools of biotechnology to meet the urgent need in the 21st century to produce more food, and more nutritious foods, within the constraints of a fragile ecosystem.
"While biotechnology alone cannot overcome infrastructure constraints, the technology provides important tools to understand how to grow crops in challenging climate and soil conditions, to naturally fight insects and disease for survival to harvest, and to make them more nutritious. This report should quell the 'global war of rhetoric' and encourage a collaborate effort to redirect that energy into building strong infrastructure and harmonized regulatory policies to realize the promise of this technology."
The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. For more information on BIO, visit our website at www.bio.org
Note to editors: Link to the report is at www.fao.org