My name is Val Giddings. I am a geneticist by training, and I have worked for
25 years on policy and science-based regulation of biotechnology products for
governments, multilateral organizations, NGOs, and industry. In my current
capacity as a consultant, I work for a variety of clients worldwide. I am
presently based in the US but most of my work involves developing countries.
I add my voice to the grateful chorus commending FAO for hosting this
conference. It has elicited an abundance of good and useful comments and
input that should provide welcome guidance as FAO and others consider how
best to bring biotechnology to bear on the challenges of sustainable
agricultural production, particular in developing countries.
I want to comment on the observation Dr. Sivakumar made in post 112 that
"Biotechnology is not going to yield products immediately for any developing
countries." While some may hold this view, participants should be aware that
major benefits have already been delivered to the economies, environments,
and peoples of developing countries by the biotech improved crops introduced
to date. The majority of countries growing biotech crops (legally) to date
are in the developing world (15 of 25) where 12.3 million of the 13.3 million
farmers growing biotech crops live. This has been well documented in a
variety of publications, perhaps most notably by Clive James (see
t.html) and by Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot (see
http://www.pgeconomics.co.uk/pdf/GM_crop_yield_arial.pdf). Biotech is not
merely promise and potential, but increasingly it is value already delivered
to farmers on the ground in developing countries.
In each case, where farmers are successfully and legally growing biotech
improved crops today, it is because regulatory hurdles have been overcome and
permission has been granted by government authorities to grow and use them.
If any single obstacle to the wider dissemination of these crops has been
under-emphasized in this e-conference, it is that scientifically
unsupportable regulatory burdens continue to block farmer access to crops
that even EU officials have conceded are probably safer than the alternatives
(see http://ec.europa.eu/research/fp5/eag-gmo.html). It would serve FAO and
its mission well to consider measures that could be undertaken to help reduce
such obstacles, for if they cannot be overcome, conquering all the others
described in the postings to this conference will count for nothing.
L. Val Giddings, Ph.D
P.O. Box 8254
LVG (at) PrometheusAB.com