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International Symposium on "The Role of Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition

15-17 February 2016, FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy









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    Meeting
    Summary Report of the FAO International Symposium on "The Role of Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition
    15-17 February 2016, FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy
    2016
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    The objective of the symposium was to explore the application of biotechnologies for the benefit of family farmers in developing sustainable food systems and improving nutrition in the context of unprecedented challenges, including climate change. The symposium successfully broadened the discussions beyond the narrow and polarised debate on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) which is hindering the development and use of the full range of biotechnologies.The symposium highlighted numerous exam ples of the successful application of agricultural biotechnologies that meet the needs of family farmers in the crop, forestry, fishery and livestock sectors. The importance of building awareness and communication on agricultural biotechnologies was a common theme throughout the symposium as was the view that all stakeholders, including smallholders and family farmers, should be engaged in this process.
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    Agricultural biotechnologies in developing countries and their possiblecontribution to food security 2011
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    Latest FAO figures indicate that an estimated 925 million people are undernourished in 2010, representing almost 16% of the population in developing countries. Looking to the future, there are also major challenges ahead from the rapidly changing socio-economic environment (increasing world population and urbanisation, and dietary changes) and climate change. Promoting agriculture in developing countries is the key to achieving food security, and it is essential to act in four ways: to increase investment in agriculture, broaden access to food, improve governance of global trade, and increase productivity while conserving natural resources. To enable the fourth action, the suite of technological options for farmers should be as broad as possible, including agricultural biotechnologies. Agricultural biotechnologies represent a broad range of technologies used in food and agriculture for the genetic improvement of plant varieties and animal populations, characterisation and conservation of genetic resources, diagnosis of plant or animal diseases and other purposes. Discussions about agricultural biotechnology have been dominated by the continuing controversy surrounding genetic modification and its resulting products, genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The polarised debate has led to non-GMO biotechnologies being overshadowed, often hindering their development and application.
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    Parallel sessions: People, policies, institutions and communities. Chapter Five of the Proceedings of the FAO International Symposium on the Role of Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition 2016
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    Chapter 5 contains the Report of outcomes from the three parallel sessions dedicated to the theme of people, policies, institutions and communities. The session looked at the impact of biotechnologies on agricultural productivity, environmental sustainability and socio-economic well-being. It also considered the role of evidence in policy-making. Nineteen case studies were discussed in consideration of applying non-GMO biotechnologies for smallholders, which could eventually assist policy-make rs when deciding on potential interventions involving biotechnologies for smallholders in developing countries. Specific case studies and experiences from China and India were also discussed, with reference to both GMOs and non-GMO biotechnologies. The FAO international symposium on “The role of agricultural biotechnologies in sustainable food systems and nutrition” took place from 15 to 17 February 2016 at FAO headquarters, Rome. Over 400 people attended, including 230 delegates from 75 me mber countries and the European Union, as well as representatives of intergovernmental organizations, private sector entities, civil society organizations, academia/research organizations and producer organizations/cooperatives. The symposium encompassed the crop, livestock, forestry and fishery sectors and was organized around three main themes: i) climate change; ii) sustainable food systems and nutrition; and iii) people, policies, institutions and communities. The proceedings provide the mai n highlights of the symposium which covered a broad range of biotechnologies, from low-tech approaches such as those involving use of microbial fermentation processes, biofertilizers, biopesticides and artificial insemination, to high-tech approaches such as those involving advanced DNA-based methodologies and genetically modified organisms.

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    For more information, visit the webpage http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/agribiotechs-symposium/en/.

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