FAO Symposium Discusses Biotechnologies for Small-scale Farmers
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Participants to the International Symposium on the Role of Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition, organized by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO), concluded that agricultural biotechnologies will be essential to addressing the needs of small farmers and vulnerable populations combating hunger and adapting to climate change.

fao_headquarters17 February 2016: Participants to the International Symposium on the Role of Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition, organized by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO), concluded that agricultural biotechnologies will be essential to addressing the needs of small farmers and vulnerable populations combating hunger and adapting to climate change.

Attended by approximately 500 scientists and representatives of civil society, the private sector, academia, farmers’ associations and cooperatives, the symposium focused on the role of biotechnologies in: increasing the yields and productivity of crops, livestock fish and trees; improving nutrition; adapting to climate change; and benefiting family farmers and their food systems and livelihoods.

In his opening remarks, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva stressed the need for “a broad portfolio of tools and approaches to eradicate hunger, fight every form of malnutrition and achieve sustainable agriculture,” noting that the world must ensure that “no solution is left untouched when it comes to fighting hunger and malnutrition.”

Presentations were held under nine themes, including, for example: climate change adaptation in the crop, forestry, livestock and fishery sectors as well as opportunities for adaptation with mitigation co-benefits; improving efficiency through enhanced resource use efficiency; social and economic impacts of biotechnologies on smallholder farmers; post-production value addition and food safety; public policies, strategies and regulations; and capacity development and partnerships.

The symposium also included a high-level ministerial event and an interactive, online panel session with students from universities in six countries.

During the closing session, speakers noted that the “new debate on biotech” goes beyond genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and includes many potential benefits for small farmers. They also stressed the need to capitalize on youth’s ideas in shaping the new biotechnology agenda.

The symposium built on the outcomes of the 2010 FAO International Technical Conference on Agricultural Biotechnologies for Developing Countries and is part of a series of dialogues and exchanges of information on sustainable development organized by FAO. [FAO Press Release, 12 February] [FAO Press Release, 15 February] [FAO Press Release, 17 February] [Symposium Website] [Webcast of Symposium] [IISD RS Story on 2010 International Technical Conference on Agricultural Biotechnologies for Developing Countries] [Proceedings of the Symposium]

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