FAO Discussion Paper Addresses Role of Biotechnologies in Coping with Water Scarcity
February 2009: A discussion paper titled “Coping with Water Scarcity: What Role for Biotechnologies?” has been published in FAO's Land and Water Discussion Paper Series.
The first part of the paper provides background information on the current situation and future challenges regarding water availability, and discusses strategies that can be employed to deal with water scarcity, focusing on water use in agriculture and potential ways in which biotechnology could contribute to coping with water shortages in this area.
The second part summarizes the outputs from an e-mail conference hosted by the FAO Biotechnology Forum from 5 March-1 April 2007. While participants agreed that biotechnology has a valuable role to play in coping with water scarcity, opinions differed over the role of specific tools, in particular regarding the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Participants also felt that biotechnology applications have not yet met their full potential to deliver solutions to water scarcity. To ensure that biotechnology products such as drought resistant crops reach farmers, participants called for increased collaboration and interdisciplinary research, improved exchange of unbiased information regarding GMO risks and opportunities, and improved stakeholder involvement in the design of solutions to water scarcity in agriculture. Other recommendations included stronger political and financial support and improved research cooperation between developing and developed countries to overcome obstacles, such as lack of funding, human and institutional capacity and adequate infrastructure. [The Report]