The media and writers are critical to achieving the global goal of feeding the world by 2050 and restoring one million hectares of land, says the international journalist.

According to Markus Roediger, Managing Director Agricultural Information Center LID and former president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ).

“We must come together and take action today for the future of agriculture and our planet,” he said. “With the challenges the world is facing in achieving global food security and exponential population growth, GM technologies will gradually become commonplace and therefore we need to invest in capacity development for GM.”

GMOs may not be the only solution to feed the world, Roediger said at the recent Alltech ONE conference, “but it’s the best option the world has right now.”

Agriculture is integral to ensuring that there is enough nutritious food for everyone and that local economies and communities thrive, he said.

Unleashing Africa’s agricultural potential will create jobs as well as provide enough food for domestic supply, Roediger said. The need to boost agricultural production on the continent is especially urgent, he said, given the $35 billion that Africa spends every year on food imports.

Steve Werblow, freelance writer on agriculture and vice president of IFAJ, also believes that increasing investment in biotechnology is the right way to increase agricultural production in Africa.

He expressed concern about how climate change is negatively impacting agricultural production at a time when land for agricultural activities is drastically shrinking.

“It’s time to connect writers and communicators with farmers so they can introduce them to new innovations and technologies,” Werblow said.

Africa has the potential to feed itself and export more food to the global market, he said, but that potential is hampered by a lack of agricultural infrastructure and an inability to innovate. Campaigns against GMOs instill fear in people and undermine food security efforts.

“Why should we sit back and watch as some anti-technology civil society groups undermine the efforts of scientists to improve agriculture through innovation?” Werblow asked.

The researchers say Africa could make incredible strides when the technology eventually ends up in the hands of ordinary farmers, which is why it is needed on the continent. Climate change, pest infestations and low crop yields are some of the key issues that biotechnology can help address in Africa.

“For us, genetically improved seeds are one of the most effective ways to address these issues,” Verblow said. “Special traits that we could not achieve with conventional breeding are made possible by GMO technologies and gene editing techniques.”

Image: A newsgroup from South Africa is interviewed. A photo: Wire Makers


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