Hundreds of major media outlets covered the October 15th speech given by Bill Gates’ at the annual World Food Prize Forum in Des Moines, in which Gates makes the case for biotechnology and other modern agricultural practices in the fight to end world hunger.
According to Reuters, Gates said the fight to end hunger is being hurt by environmentalists who insist that genetically modified crops cannot be used in Africa.
“Some people insist on an ideal vision of the environment,” Gates said. “They have tried to restrict the spread of biotechnology into sub-Saharan Africa without regard to how much hunger and poverty might be reduced by it, or what the farmers themselves might want.”
The Des Moines Register writes “In what was billed as his first major speech on agriculture, Gates chided critics who he said are ‘instantly hostile to any emphasis on productivity’ and ignore the challenges to food production posed by climate change. Gates said transgenic crops ‘can help address farmers’ challenges faster and more efficiently than conventional breeding alone.'”
“The charge is clear,” Gates said. “We have to develop crops that can grow in a drought; that can survive in a flood; that can resist pests and disease. We need higher yields on the same land in harsher weather. And we will never get that without a continuous and urgent science-based search to increase productivity, especially in the developing world.”
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in recent years has turned its focus to helping poor, small-holder farmers grow and sell more crops as a way to reduce hunger and poverty. The foundation, which has committed $1.4 billion to agricultural development efforts, announced nine new grants worth a total of $120 million aimed at raising yields and farming expertise in the developing world.
The impact of those new varieties could help convince skeptics of the benefits of biotechnology, he said. “The technologies will be licensed royalty-free to seed distributors so that the new seeds can be sold to African farmers without extra charge,” Gates said.
For more information on how biotechnology is making production agriculture more sustainable and helping to better feed the world, visit these sites:
World Food Day USA: www.worldfooddayusa.org/CMS/2955.aspx
(including information about the 2009 World Food Day Teleconference Panel Discussion)
The World Food Prize Forum and the Borlaug Dialogue: www.worldfoodprize.org
Council for Biotechnology Information: www.whybiotech.com
What Can Biotech Do For You?: www.whatcanbiotechdoforyou.com/2009/10/world-food-day
Crop Life International: www.cropnewsnetwork.com
Truth About Trade and Technology: www.truthabouttrade.org