2 June 2000
Expert predicts strong GM future

AS much as 75% of crops grown in the world in 20 years time will be genetically modified, claims a leading scientist.

Professor C S Prakash from the Center for Plant Biotechnology Research, Tukegee University, Alabama, views GM technology as a useful tool to feed a growing population as resources deplete.

“When biotechnology offers a sustainable solution to farming and food production on a cost-effective basis, we clearly need to embrace it,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme.

He pointed out that in the US up to 50% of major crops are GM, and predicted by 2020 between 50-75% of the crops around the globe will be GM.

“Biotechnology, used strategically and responsibly, is increasingly likely to bring prosperity and equity into this world.”

Prof Prakash, who is also a member of the USDA advisory committee on agricultural biotechnology, added that conventional techniques can also offer partial solutions.

Presently 1bn people in the third world go hungry each day and 40,000 die of malnutrition each day.

Prof Prakash said it was “sad” that there was so much resistance in Britain to GM technology.

He warned that this was causing despair among British scientists and could threaten investment.

Prof Prakash will contribute to a debate on organic farming and biotechnology debate at the Royal College of Agriculture, Cirencester, on Friday (2 June.) at 11am.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times features a profile of Norfolk farmer David Hill, who is trialling GM sugar beet.

Mr Hill argues that the technology will reduce chemicals costs from 40 to 4 per acre.

He adds that a carpet of weeds which forms before spraying helps topsoil retain moisture and provides a habitat for wildlife.

  • Financial Times 02/06/2000 page 6