The world community faces daunting challenges. Over 1 billion people are malnourished, often resulting in chronic diseases and premature deaths. Agriculture impacts the environment through pesticides, fertilizers, irrigation, ploughing and conversion of natural habitats. The situation is compounded further by the growth of the world population and climate change.
According to the United Nations Food- and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), by 2050 the world will have to produce 70% more food on about the same area of land. The agricultural production of feed, fibre and biomass will also have to increase substantially, i.e. there is an urgent need for “sustainable intensification”. Agriculture represents a unique opportunity to address food security, CO2 emissions, dependency on fossil fuels, and employment. For that, farmers need, among other things, crops that provide a higher yield per hectare, make better use of water, are less dependent on pesticides and fertilisers, and have enhanced nutritional value.
As has been recognised repeatedly since the Earth Summit in 1992, no single technology can solve those complex challenges by itself, but modern biotechnology, in conjunction with conventional breeding, can contribute significantly to solving them.