American Society of Plant Biologists, an international body working on the advancement of plant sciences, organized a workshop on ‘Risk assessment of Genetically Modified (GM) Crops’. The workshop, held at Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biology (CEMB) covered a wide array of topics including scientific, commercial, and environmental aspects of GM crops.
While highlighting the environmental risk assessment of GM crops, Monsanto Pakistan’s Regulatory Affairs and Stewardship Lead, Muhammad Asim explained that “There are more than 1,000 scientific studies on GMO safety with zero recorded instances of associated health and safety hazards in over 20 years of commercial sale. He further added, “It’s not just the scientific research that backs the environmental benefits of growing GM crops, but the evidence itself shows how biotechnology has significantly contributed towards environmental preservation. In 2017 alone, biotech helped prevent an estimated 27.1 billion kg of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions”.
Apart from environmental perspective, GM crops also offer sustainable solutions for ensuring food security. Today’s world dilemma revolves around producing more food for the rapidly growing population while relying on depleting natural resources. According to United Nation’s estimates, world population is projected to increase by 50% by the year 2050. Given several additional challenges associated with climate change, land availability and water scarcity, modern and efficient agriculture practices will need to be employed to grow more with less resources.
Director CEMB, Prof. Dr. Tayyab Husnain stated that “The academia and industry collectively needs to raise awareness about the advancements in modern agriculture to counter misconceptions hindering agricultural growth. It’s time we save our natural resources by relying on scientifically backed solutions that not only offer higher yields but also prevent environmental degradation”. Commercial GM crops have been grown since 1996, and are grown in 30 countries. In 2017, millions of farmersin 24 countries grew a record 469 million acres of GM crops. They have led to dramatic improvements in food and fiber production, as well as more sustainable farming practices.