The development of transgenic plants with enhanced micronutrient content can be a means to support the world’s dwindling food supply in the face of climate change.

Biofortified varieties of staple food grains like Vitamin A- enriched Golden Rice or iron- enriched wheat can improve the nutritional status of the world’s poor, P. Pushpangadan, Director General, Amity Institute for Herbal and Biotech Products Development said here on Thursday.

Presenting a paper on Recent Advances of Agricultural Biotechnology in the light of Climate Change at the 81{+s}{+t}annual session of the National Academy of Sciences, India (NASI), he said

the challenge posed to food security by climate change would require the development of a generation of new crops with enhanced mineral and vitamin content.

“Today, one billion people of the world are undernourished and more than a third are malnourished. As the world’s population continues to increase, the looming threat of climate change will exasperate the situation even further. Biofortified foods can be easily incorporated into the dietary habits and farming programs of the rural poor of developing countries. People who would have access to biofortified foods may be better prepared to withstand deleterious effects on their livelihoods due to climate change”.

Dr.Pushpangadan, former director of the Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute at Palode near here, said it was necessary to encourage countries to think proactively about the role technology could play in addressing food security and climate change and about its strong potential as an engine of economic growth. “Unfortunately, the lack of science based regulations in many countries discourages innovation and adaptation and creates barriers to trade”, he said.

“By 2050, the global population will surpass 9 billion and require nearly a doubling of agricultural output to provide an adequate food supply. At the same time, the world’s agricultural system will be increasingly challenged by water scarcity and climate change, raising the risk of production shortfalls in a world where over 1 billion people are already undernourished. A challenge like this can be met through biotechnology, innovation, and appropriate agricultural development and trade policies”.

Dr.Pushpangadan said, “It is becoming clear that climate change will be the most important constraint on our ability to feed ourselves in the coming decades. We must do everything we can to transform our food production system, to help combat global warming and, at the same time, to feed ourselves, in what will almost certainly be far less favorable conditions.

“While it remains controversial in some policy arenas and public fora, agricultural biotechnology has produced dramatic improvements in yield and reductions in production costs and input use intensity”, he said.


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