GM crops, edible insects will boost global sustainability, UN chief agriculture scientist says

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Credit: Thermo Fisher Scientific

On the side-lines of the UN’s 2021 Climate Adaptation Summit, TIME speaks with Agnes Kalibata, the Rwandan-born agricultural scientist and policymaker who was recently appointed as UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ special envoy for the 2021 Food Systems Summit.

TIME: So if these climatic changes are inevitable, how do we make farmers and food systems more resilient?

AK: Number one: use science to ensure that farmers have better tools to manage the problem. For example CGIAR is doubling down to ensure that [scientists] are bringing out drought resistant [crop] varieties. Here in Kenya where I live, farmers are moving from varieties they’ve always known, that take six months to mature, to varieties that are taking two to three months. These varieties require less rain, they mature early, and they are resistant to pests.

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TIME: What is it going to take to get the world eating more insects?

AK: Insects are 60% dry weight protein. I mean, honestly, why wouldn’t we use them? But we have to be able to put them in a form that is acceptable to different cultures and different societies. Overcoming the cultural barrier is going to be the most important thing when using insects in our diet.

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