Food Security and Nutrition - The GM Question


Presented by Dr Jim Peacock, CSIRO Fellow and former Chief Scientist of Australia

Start Date

10th Jul 2012 6:00pm

End Date

10th Jul 2012 7:30pm


Stanley Burbury Theatre, University Centre, Churchill Avenue, Sandy Bay campus

RSVP / Contact Information

E: P: 6226 2521

Click here to access a recording of this lecture  


"Food Security and Nutrition - The GM Question"

presented by

Photo of Jim Peacock
Dr Jim Peacock AC
CSIRO Fellow and Former Chief Scientist to Australia

On 31 October 1999 the sixth billionth living person was born on our planet. On 31 October 2011 the seventh billion living person was born - one billion extra people in just 12 years.

At present there are approximately one billion poor and hungry people in the world. By 2050 we are going to need at least 70% more food to be produced and be available on a global scale. In the developing countries where there are some 2.5 billion small resource farmers, and these some of the poorest people in the world, food production needs to be doubled.

Can we meet these challenges?

To meet the challenges there are going to need to be massive increases in investment in agriculture and a 30% increase over current rates. At the moment Governments are not fully persuaded that this is an essential need. There have been some remarkable increases in yields of crops in the last 20 years and the increases are a result of better agronomic practices and improved management in the cropping environment, and importantly, improved genetic potential. The increased yields are of an order where we can be confident of producing the additional needed food by 2050. On the genetic side this will depend upon our plant breeders being able to use the most powerful breeding technologies available and this includes the technologies associated with laboratory based genetic modification of the genetic makeup of crops.

This is an area which is still charged with concern by sectors of the public in many countries and it will be of the utmost importance to have the concern about potential hazards fully explained and hopefully all barriers removed. The new genetic technologies are of extreme importance in the needed improvement of the human nutritional properties of the grains of cereals, legumes and oilseeds that form the huge majority of the worlds food supply. Nutritional fault in our diet are contributing to epidemics of the non infectious diseases diabetes 2, colorectal cancer and cardiovascular problems.

Understanding through education, careful and thorough regulatory controls and the development of sensible and rational policies by Governments are all needed.


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