Wednesday, September 29, 2010
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Marco Ferroni, the executive director of the Switzerland-based SFSA, was speaking on the sidelines of the Global Economic Symposium, which wrapped up on Wednesday in Istanbul. The organization is founded by Syngenta, the world’s biggest maker of agricultural chemicals and a leader in genetically modified organisms, or GMO.
Rising global food demand and the necessity of developing new agricultural policies were among the key topics discussed at the event.
“Turkey could well be the main food provider of its neighbors. It has the potential to do so,” Ferroni told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. “If science and sensible policies prevail, if strategic investments are made and the markets function properly, food demand could be met in a sustainable way.
“In Europe, we consume many agricultural products from Turkey, such as apricots and dried products,” he said, adding that production levels could be increased with more efficient use of science and a convenient regulatory framework. “Look at the example of Israel,” Ferroni said. “Turkey could become a hub for all kinds of products since its climate conditions are suitable for any kind of agricultural activity.”
According to estimates, the demand for food in 2050 will be double today’s figures. “Nobody can know the exact figure, but it is clear that significantly more food will be needed,” Ferroni said. “Agricultural activities such as food storage and processing are on the top of the list of today’s crucial issues.”
International wheat prices have soared 60-80 percent since July, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, while maize rose about 40 percent in the same period.
In order to meet rising demand, Ferroni suggested that the destruction of forests for cropland and pastures should be stopped, the loss of biodiversity should be prevented and dangerous mining activity and overuse of water and soils should be halted.
Talking to the Daily News, he said harvest technology and food processing must evolve to reduce losses, while food safety and supply chains should be improved. He also advocated the idea of increasing food production through genetically modified products, a topic of hot debate in Turkey and the world.
“[GMOs] are certainly not the only way, but they are an option that some countries could apply for the sake of meeting increasing demand to fight hunger,” he said.
Acknowledging that developed countries also have doubts on GMOs, he said: “I can understand Turkey’s concern, but in the end, the technology used for this process has been practiced for nearly a decade now. Brazil today is the biggest soybean and oil producer in the world through GMOs.”
According to a report published last year by FAO, the world agriculture industry may have to produce 70 percent more food for an additional 2.3 billion people by the year 2050