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Genetically modified food crops and their contribution to human nutrition and food quality. Genetically modified food crops and their contribution to human nutrition and food quality. Prof J Ralph Blanchfield, MBE Chair, External Affairs Institute of Food Science & Technology

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Genetically modified food crops and their contribution to human nutrition and food quality


Genetically modified food crops and their contribution to human nutrition and food quality

Prof J Ralph Blanchfield, MBE

Chair, External Affairs

Institute of Food Science & Technology

Vice President, European Food Law Association

of the United Kingdom

Food science, food technology and food law consultant

E-mail: [email protected]: www.jralphb.co.uk


International Council for Science


UKFFoSTThe United Kingdom Federation for Food Science & TechnologyThe national federation of UK societies with interests in food science, food technology and food engineering


Institute of Food Science & Technology

the UK-based professional qualifying body of food scientists and technologists

–independent, democratic,

not-for-profit, self-governing, self-funding


Institute of Food Science & Technology

totally independent of government, of industry, and of any lobbying groups or special interest groups;


Institute of Food Science & Technology

Collaborates in the public interest with

government

academia

consumer bodies

industry

Retains complete independence


Institute of Food Science & Technology

professional members elected on academic qualifications and relevant experience, and signed undertaking to comply with the Institute's ethical Code of Professional Conduct;


Institute of Food Science & TechnologyThe first of its four purposes is:

to serve the public interest by furthering the application of science and technology to all aspects of the supply of safe, wholesome, nutritious and attractive food, nationally and internationally.


Institute of Food Science & Technology

Root-and-branch only for the methodology of science

Attitude to genetic modification?


Institute of Food Science & Technology

IFST’s perspective on GM:

Food scientists and technologists can support the responsible introduction of GM techniques provided that issues of product safety, environmental concerns, information and ethics are satisfactorily addressed.


Institute of Food Science & Technology

IFST’s perspective on GM (cont):

IFST considers that they are being, but need even more intensively to be so addressed, so that the benefits that this technology can confer may become available, not least to help feed the world's escalating population in the coming decades.


Institute of Food Science & Technology

IFST’s perspective on GM (cont):

Help to feed the world's escalating population in the coming decades?

Is help needed?


Institute of Food Science & Technology

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug:

"the first essential

component of social justice is adequate food."

(Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, 1970)


One tool in the armoury of tools to produce food

  • GM arises in many forms:

    • Natural mutation

    • Selective breeding

    • Within-species gene transfer

    • Trans-species gene transfer

Genetic modification:


One tool in the armoury of tools to produce food

  • Within-species gene transfer

    Essentially similar to selective breeding but faster and better targeted

    • Desired change in a very few generations.

    • Greater precision in selecting characteristics.

Genetic modification:


One tool in the armoury of tools to produce food

  • Trans-species gene transfer

    Can achieve results not achievable by “traditional” methods

Genetic modification:


  • Reduced farming inputs:

    • Reduced tillage

    • Reduced use of pesticides, herbicides

  • Improved yields

  • Ability to grow crops in inhospitable environments

  • Improved nutrition attributes

  • Improved processing characteristics

  • Prevention of loss of species to endemic disease

Genetic modification potential:


  • Reduced tillage

    Labour and cost reduction while avoiding soil deterioration / erosion

Genetic modification potential:


  • Reduced use of pesticides, herbicides

    • GM maize with inbuilt herbicidal activity

    • GM soya that needs only or two applications of a single herbicide instead of cocktail of several herbicides during growing period

Genetic modification potential:


  • Improved yields

    • Crop plant attributes

    • Reduced losses to pests and disease

Genetic modification potential:


  • Ability to grow crops in inhospitable environments:

    • Drought

    • Saline soil

    • Aluminium-rich soil

    • Extremes of temperature

Genetic modification potential:


  • Improved nutrition attributes

    • Yield and quality of macro-nutrients

    • Micro-nutrients

    • Enhancement of phytochemical components

    • Removal of allergens or toxic components

Genetic modification potential:


  • Improved processing characteristics

    • ease of harvesting

    • resistance to damage in transporting

    • resistance to damage in handling

    • slower deterioration

Genetic modification potential:


  • Prevention of loss of species to endemic disease

Genetic modification potential:

e.g. the Cavendish dessert banana which could be wiped out in ten years by two fungal diseases that have struck Africa, South America and Asia, but could be reprieved by GM development of a disease-resistant version


  • Reduced farming inputs:

    • Reduced tillage

    • Reduced use of pesticides, herbicides

  • Improved yields

  • Ability to grow crops in inhospitable environments

  • Improved nutrition attributes

  • Improved processing characteristics

  • Prevention of loss of species to endemic disease

Genetic modification potential:


Can the first wave of GM provide these potentialities?

Could Wright Bros 1903 Kitty Hawk have provided intercontinental passenger flight?

Genetic modification potential:


Can these potentialities be effectively realised?

Problems of new technologies

Problems - real, speculative and imaginary

Food safety, environment, ethics, information

Genetic modification potential:


Genetic modification potential:

We are not disinterested spectators standing on the sidelines and observing problems that may stand in the way.

We have a duty to address and solve such problems.

Science is society’s tool for doing that.


"As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it."

  • [Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Wisdom of the Sands (1948)]

Institute of Food Science & Technology


  • Shakespeare’s perspective on GM:

    “Out of this nettle, danger,

    we pluck this flower, safety”

    [King Henry IV, Part 1]

Institute of Food Science & Technology


  • IFST’s perspective on GM:

    Don’t throw out the baby with the bath-water;

    with help it just might become a healthy adult

Institute of Food Science & Technology


Institute of Food Science & TechnologyThe first of its four purposes is:

to serve the public interest by furthering the application of science and technology to all aspects of the supply of safe, wholesome, nutritious and attractive food, nationally and internationally.

What are the other three?


Institute of Food Science & TechnologyThe other three purposes are:

(2) to advance the standing of food science and technology, both as a subject and as a profession;

(3) to assist members in their career and personal development within the profession;

(4) to uphold professional standards of competence and integrity


Institute of Food Science & Technologywww.ifst.org


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