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AgBioWorld Foundation Calls For Support of Beneficial Technology

Tuskegee, AL August 17, 2001 - The AgBioWorld Foundation today called upon the Sri Lankan government to rethink its ban on biotechnology food imports imposed earlier this month. "This was a reckless decision," said C.S. Prakash, professor of plant genetics and president of the AgBioWorld Foundation. "And it will prevent the Sri Lankan people from benefiting from this safe and promising technology."

A recent report published by the United Nations Development Program found that genetically enhanced crop plants can significantly benefit local and regional agriculture in the developing world, the key to addressing both hunger and low income. "Biotechnology offers the only, or the best, tool of choice for marginal ecological zones left behind by the Green Revolution, but home to more than half the world's poorest people," the report found. It also charged that bans on trade in biotech products based upon dubious concerns about safety could jeopardize the ability of the poorest nations to feed growing populations.

Millions of people go hungry, and hundreds of millions more receive inadequate levels of dietary nutrients. But agricultural researchers around the globe are now using biotechnology to improve many important plant varieties useful in impoverished regions. "The decision by Sri Lanka, or any government, to prevent its citizens from sharing in the benefits of biotechnology is short-sighted and immoral," said Prakash, and he added that "biotechnology provides a valuable tool for developing countries to produce more food locally and in an environmentally sustainable manner."

There is a consensus within the scientific community that genetic modification is a safe method for improving food production. Seven national academies of science and dozens of other scientific bodies have endorsed this approach. And a Declaration of Scientists in Support of Agricultural Biotechnology, endorsed by more than 3,200 scientists, including 16 Nobel Prize winners, states that "biotechnology can address environmental degradation, hunger, and poverty in the developing world by providing improved agricultural productivity and greater nutritional security." The declaration and a list of signatories can be viewed at http://www.agbioworld.org.

The AgBioWorld Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides information about developments in plant science, biotechnology, and sustainable agriculture. For more information, contact C.S. Prakash at 1-334-444-7884 (prakash@agbioworld.org) or Gregory Conko at 1-202-550-2974 (conko@cei.org).