Thursday, April 18, 2024

U.S Professor castigates myths surrounding biotechnology products

Professor Wayne Parrot from the University of Georgia in United States of America castigated the concerns around bio-safety and biotechnology, more especially the myths surrounding the effects of biotechnology products.
Speaking at a seminar on Tuesday at University of Botswana (UB) Parrot said dwelling entirely on traditional breeding practices will not be sufficient to addresses the growing concerns in a non-traditional world, such as increasing poverty, malnutrition, and limited availability of arable land and other resources.
Botswana is party to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity which was domesticated in 2002. However, lack of legislation on bio-safety and biotechnology is a major setback to implementation of the protocol since people have to be given a choice of what to consume, through labelling.
“The main conclusion to be drawn from more than 130 research projects, more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than conventional plant breeding technologies,” said Parrot.
Parrot disqualified the safety concerns surrounding the GMO as mere myths. “The Problems some people feared never appeared, in fact there has been extensive safety testing around the world from the most studied foods in history, no negative claims ever confirmed. Actually they are as safe as conventional food.”
Therefore, major breakthroughs such as transgenic technology have to become a vital component of global agriculture to meet these grand challenges
He noted that it’s equally surprising because we have had modified plants for centuries and GMOs are the most studied foods in history. “We have 17 years of experience 1 billion Hectares in 30 countries and no proven problems,” said Prof Parrot.
Foods produced from genetic engineering must be at least as safe as their conventional counterparts
He argued that in fact Genetic modification is an ancient practice with a Long safety record. The GMO crops include soybean, corn, canola, cotton, sugar beet, alfalfa, papaya, and squash. He boldly said GM technology is here to stay as part of the solution, not part of a problem
He mentioned that the scientific community can play a major in enabling the communication of accurate information about GMOs to the public.
“It takes only seconds for misinformation to travel all across the globe with today’s technological advances, therefore the public is easily blinded by misinformation about GMOs,” he said.
Professor Parrot showed how a traditional crop such as maize which has been grown for over centuries currently grown on average 6 million ha, by 11 millions farmers has now advanced as a genetically modified crop, while overcoming the barriers of food safety and public acceptance.
He emphasized that GM technology has become a ‘technology of preference’ enabling farmers to successfully grow maize without using pesticides. At present, four African states of South Africa, Egypt, Burkina Faso and Sudan grow genetically modified products.


Read this week's paper