Biotech crops have been widespread in the marketplace for nearly twenty years and have had great success – but the best is yet to come!
We are better equipped to deal with the numerous agricultural challenges we face due to our advancements in understanding plant genomics. First and foremost among these challenges is a rapidly rising global population. It’s been well-documented that, according to the UN, the global population is projected to rise to ~9 billion by 2040 and the world will need “at least 50 percent more food” by 2030.
Feeding a couple billion extra people will be no easy feat, especially when compounded with a slew of serious challenges that hamper food production. These challenges include decreasing arable land, soil salinization, changing pest and disease pressures, poor water quality and quantity, and uncertain global weather patterns. Consider the devastation drought brought to the U.S this past summer.
These difficult issues hit the developing world the hardest. Unfortunately, they also have the fewest means to deal with the hardship of high crop losses and production costs. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization stated in 2012 that about 870 million people are currently undernourished. The goal of reducing this number despite the challenges mentioned above is a daunting one. We must use all the tools we have at our disposal.
The innovative solutions biotechnology delivers are crucial. This is why many of the world’s leading think tanks support work that aims to enhance staple crops like rice and cassava. These crops feed millions and they must be able to stand up to pests, grow in variable conditions and provide sorely-needed nutrients if, as a world, we are to feed our people and save our planet.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, having raised over $36 billion since 1994 (primarily for their Global Health & Development Programs), is a great example of innovators who share this goal. They state that “if we focus these advances (in science) on helping people improve their lives, then within this century billions of people will be healthier…and have the power to lift themselves out of hunger and poverty.”
The potential of agricultural biotechnology to better the lives of so many people cannot be ignored. As a company, we strongly believe this, none more than our president Neal Carter. Neal has worked around the globe as a bioresource engineer for ~30 years and has seen firsthand the challenges that must be overcome. Drawing from this experience, Neal recently delivered a TEDx talk on the life-saving potential of agricultural biotechnology, which we strongly encourage you to view for yourself.