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GLOBAL APEC Press Release: Biotech
solutions to improve food security, advise academics and industry 28- May-2012 Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) View
Kazan, Russia, 28 May 2012
Issued by the APEC
High Level Policy Dialogue on Agricultural Biotechnology
Climate change, increases in population particularly in
the Asia-Pacific region, limited arable land and water scarcity
pose challenges to meeting food security needs of the region,
warned experts on Saturday ahead of the APEC Ministerial
Meeting on Food Security later this week.
But recognition that the potential of biotechnology to contribute
to food security and sustainability in the region was acknowledged
by APEC officials after a presentation by Dr. Julian Adams
who is with the Program for Biosafety Systems and at the
University of Michigan.
“While food intake has been increasing, there is limited
potential for cropland expansion in Asia, irrespective of
conservation, water and other environmental issues,” said
Adams. “In addition, as incomes rise in developing countries,
for example, there is increased demand for high valued food,
principally meat and fish.”
“It takes, on average, three kilograms of grain to produce
one kilogram of meat, given that part of the production
is based on other sources of feed, rangeland and organic
waste,” he explained. “In addition, about 16,000 litres
of virtual water are needed to produce one kilogram of meat.
Hence, an increased demand for meat results in an accelerated
demand for water, crop and rangeland area.”
Agriculture drains large amounts of water from aquifers,
streams and lakes and is the second most important source
of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 17 per cent
of total greenhouse gas emissions by sector.
“In 1995, about 1.8 billion people were living in areas
experiencing severe water stress,” Adams continued. “In
2025, about two-thirds of the world’s population – about
5.5 billion people – are expected to live in areas facing
moderate to severe water stress.”
It was reported that global climate change would result
in the melting of the polar ice-caps which will in turn
cause a reduction in the availability of arable land, and
increased salinity of coastal lands.
To mitigate against these impacts and adjust for climate
change, biotechnology solutions across the region are under
commercial development. Some future crop varieties may include
traits designed to be drought resistant, nitrogen use efficient,
and tolerate flood, salt, heat and ozone.
Concerns about low level presence of biotechnology crops
approved by an exporting economy, but not an importing economy
were also discussed.
Most trans-boundary movement of grain used for food, feed
or for processing is shipped by bulk and is characterized
by high volumes and low cost. The International Grain Trade
Coalition‘s Dennis Stephens cautioned officials today that
it is difficult to meet the standards that have been set.
It was emphasized that incidents of low level presence create
a potential unnecessary barrier to agri-food trade.
“Though most economies currently employ zero thresholds,
these are impossible to achieve,” said Stephens. “It’s impossible
to keep varieties totally separate and co-mingling may occur
in each link of the chain.”
“Synchronization of approval in exporting and importing
economies of events produced by modern biotechnology and
the development of low level presence policies are required
urgently to minimize risks of trade disruptions that will
cause grain prices to increase and threaten food security,”
The APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security will be held
in Kazan on 30-31 May in Kazan, Russia.
# # #
For more information, please contact David Hendrickson
+65 9371 8901 at firstname.lastname@example.org or Michael Chapnick (in Russia)
+7 (8) 911 794 36 14 at mc_at_apec.org.
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