DuPont Leader Says Increasing Food Production a Moral Imperative
Both Biotech and Native Traits Needed to Sustainably Feed Growing Population
ROME.- Ensuring food security for a growing world population is a moral imperative and plant breeders are being challenged to develop sustainable solutions using innovation that involves novel approaches and techniques to meet future demands, William S. Niebur, vice president – DuPont Crop Genetics Research & Development, told the second annual World Seed Conference here. Niebur’s remarks reflect DuPont’s recently announced commitment to focus on meeting four emerging global trends, one of which is increasing food production.
“We know some will want to debate methods and processes, the science, or our motives; but at the end of the day it is up to us as plant breeders to do everything we possibly can to help ensure no individual goes hungry,” said Niebur.
Agricultural output will need to double by 2050 to feed more than 9 billion people, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This increased productivity will need to occur as available arable land and resources shift, remain unchanged, or in some areas, decrease.
“To continue improving the aggressive rate of genetic gain required to feed the world, plant breeders must access global talent, intellect and energy to develop sustainable solutions that result in increased agricultural productivity,” said Niebur. “We need to ensure farmers have the best crop management information available to position and cultivate new products where the full potential of valuable native plant characteristics as well as biotech attributes can be fully realized.”
Sustainably increasing grower productivity requires a comprehensive approach to plant breeding that includes breeding specifically for local environments; using molecular markers for gene selection; developing plants with more resistance to diseases and insects, and tolerance to herbicides; improving drought tolerance, nutrient use and nutritional content; and making plants better able to withstand environmental stresses such as cold, frost and saline soils, said Niebur.
DuPont has strategically focused on increasing food production, investing more than $500 million annually in research and development in this area with more than 200 germplasm patent applications filed in the first half of 2009. DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred is the world’s leading source of customized solutions for farmers, livestock producers and grain and oilseed processors and provides access to advanced plant genetics in nearly 70 countries.
“It’s never been more energizing to be a plant breeder,” said Niebur. “We are in an unprecedented position to keep pace with growing societal needs thanks to new technologies, an advanced understanding of crop genetics, and talented researchers focused on making a difference for the world..”
The World Seed Conference Leaving Pioneer.com is designed to raise awareness of the importance of new plant varieties and high-quality seed to find sustainable agriculture solutions to global population growth and evolving diets, climate change, demands for energy and food security. The event is attended by policy makers, government officials, plant breeders, seed specialists, researchers, farmers’ organizations and consumer organizations.
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