Australian Federal Senators have backed a motion supporting genetically modified (GM) crops for being an environmentally friendly farming technology supported by scientific rigor.
The motion passed on August 10th as the Crawford Fund’s annual conference which addressed meeting global food demand and nutrition demand sustainably. Farming technologies like GM crops – to produce food with greater nutritional value – were highlighted as tools that can help resolve this challenge.
Gerda Verburg, chair of the UN Committee on World Food Security and of the World Economic Forum Council on Food Security and Nutrition, told the conference the challenge of addressing food security and nutrition could be a minefield of polarising debates. But she said the best solutions were found when ideas can be combined from across the spectrum. “Not shying away from addressing contentious issues… like the role of genetic engineering, how to optimise land use, or how we can combine traditional knowledge with innovation and technology, is the only way to build consensus,” she said.
Senator Leyonhjelm said GM crops had an important role to play in feeding a growing global population by producing foods of greater nutritional value; especially in Asia. “We won’t be able to feed the world and allow everyone in poor countries to enjoy the same standards of living that we enjoy if we don’t develop and adopt new technologies like GM crops,” he said. “I think opposition to GM crops amounts to telling poor people in developing countries ‘you can’t live as well as we do’.”
Speaking to Fairfax Media, Crawford Fund board member John Anderson expressed concerns about “irrational” debates that ignored science, while “stymying” adoption of technologies like GMs. “There is no silver bullet when it comes to meeting the need to feed people in the coming decades; there are many parts to the jigsaw and GM is plainly one of those parts.”