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
Gregory Conko at 1-202-550-2974 (firstname.lastname@example.org).