Presentation delivered by Dr. Robert L. Paarlberg (Professor of Political Science, Wellesley College, USA) at Borlaug Summit on Wheat for Food Security. March 25 - 28, 2014, Ciudad Obregon, Mexico.
PERCEPTIONS ON THE FUTURE OF
WHY WERE GREEN REVOLUTION FOOD CROPS
WHILE GMO FOOD CROPS ARE NOW BEING
GMO FOOD CROPS CURRENTLY BLOCKED
• GMO Rice: No commercial planting in any country
• GMO Wheat: No commercial planting in any country
• GMO Potato: No commercial planting in any country
• GMO White Maize: Commercial planting only in Republic of
• GMO Sugar beet: Commercial planting only in USA and
• GMO Fruits: Only papaya, and only in United States and
• GMO Vegetables: Only summer squash and sweet corn in
United States, plus eggplant in Bangladesh
• GMO food animals or GMO fish: Not commercialized in any
• Are GMOs less safe?
• Restrictive intellectual property claims?
• GMOs are more difficult for farmers to use?
• Less urgent food needs today?
• Higher regulatory barriers for GMOs?
Organizations on record saying “No new risks to human
health or the environment from GMOs approved by
regulators so far.”
•Research Directorate General of EU (2001)
•French Academy of Sciences (2002)
•French Academy of Medicine (2002)
•UK Royal Society (2003)
•British Medical Association (2004)
•German Academies of Science and Humanities (2004)
•Director-General of World Health Organization (2002)
•International Council for Science (ICSU) (2003)
•Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (2004)
2010 REPORT FROM EU COMMISSION
DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR RESEARCH:
"The main conclusion to be drawn from the
efforts of more than 130 research projects,
covering a period of more than 25 years of
research, and involving more than 500
independent research groups, is that
biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are
not per se more risky than, for example,
conventional plant breeding technologies."
GMOS MORE DIFFICULT FOR FARMERS TO USE?
Country GMO crop First year legal to
Percent of total
crop in 2011
India Cotton 2002 88 percent
Brazil Soybean 2003 83 percent
Burkina Faso Cotton 2008 58 percent
Philippines Yellow maize 2003 64 percent
R. of South Africa White maize 2001 72 percent
China Papaya 2006 99 percent
ARE FOOD CONSUMPTION NEEDS LESS URGENT?
Prevalence of underweight in children 0-59 months old
5th Report World Nutrition Situation , 2004
THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE:
STRONG RICH COUNTRY OPPOSITION TO GMOS
• From food consumers
• From environmental activists
• From activist NGOs working through the
United Nations system
THE CRITICAL OUTCOME:
HIGHER REGULATORY BARRIERS FOR GMOS
• Developing countries are expected to enact new biosafety
laws and create new biosafety committees, prior to
planting any GMOs
• National biosafety committees must approve on a case by
case basis all research on GMOs, the environmental release
of GMOs, and the commercialization of GMOs.
• A “precautionary” regulatory standard can block
environmental release or commercial use even without any
evidence of new risks
• Even if approval for a crop is granted, mandatory labeling,
tracing, and strict liability can block uptake.
FOOD EMERGENCIES FAIL TO TURN THE TIDE
ONE POSSIBLE PREDICTION FOR GMOS OVER
THE NEXT FIVE YEARS
• GMO cotton will be grown on every continent,
and used everywhere.
• GMO feed crops will be used everywhere, but still
grown primarily in the Western Hemisphere
• Food staple crops (wheat, rice, potato) may still
not be grown anywhere in GMO form.
Summary: Green Rev and Gene Rev Differences
Green Revolution era GMO era
Global hunger fears
in the lead?