FAO’s Regional Meeting on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition in Asia-Pacific, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 11-13 September 2017 stressed the significance of improving access to biotechnologies to improve food security and fight poverty. Even though smallholder farmers inhabit the world’s hungriest and most populous regions, they are often left out of the conversation on new technologies.
The regional meeting noted that debate on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) continues to monopolize popular discourse on biotechnology. However, a more holistic approach using wider range of low- to high-tech solutions in the biotechnology toolbox would prove a more useful approach for scientists and policy makers in the region.
Dr Rajeev Varshney from ICRISAT was one of the 15 members of the external Advisory Panel of internationally recognized experts to provide advice and guidance to the Task Force on these biotechnologies. He made two presentations; one, on the “Status and challenges regarding use of agricultural biotechnologies in the crop sector” and another on “Pulses for improved nutrition and the role of biotechnologies.”
He highlighted India’s need to adopt agricultural biotechnologies to feed a growing population of 1.3 billion. Significantly, he noted that “farmers make their own decision to choose biotechnologies of their own interest”. .
The meeting was attended by over 200 delegates from 39 countries representing governments, policy makers, scientists, NGOs, FPOs, farmers etc.
Read the report here.