Barry OLivestock farmers need access to genetically modified crop technologies if they are to help feed the burgeoning world population, says Barry O’Neil (pictured), deputy director general of MAF Biosecurity New Zealand and president of the World Organisation for Animal Health OIE.

Cost and responsibility roadshow 
organised by
Farmers Weekly and RASE
23 June–3 July

  • Riseholme
  • Hartpury
  • Askham Bryan
  • Reaseheath
  • Stoneleigh

Speaking at a briefing in London he said the world population was set to rise by 50% by 2020. Already a third of all arable crops were grown for animal feed, with some fed through inefficient feed conversion systems. Unless efficiency improved output would fail to keep up with demand.

“I think we are entering a new phase, dominated by environmental issues, climate change and rising demand, and unless new varieties are introduced we are not going to be able to feed the world. I think the food shortages will help to move the GM debate forward.”

The technology had been around for a while, with no adverse effects, he felt. “I believe quite strongly that although many consumers oppose GM crops, to improve the productivity of crops and the animals they feed GM holds the most promise. I do believe that we need to work together as society to help this happen.

“By 2050 we will need twice as much food, produced from less land and with less water and more pressures around environmental sustainability. These are real challenges we need to get our heads around, and I think we need GM crops to help us.”