Address people's nutrition needs, says food scientist

The contemporary demands for “hidden hunger” (nutrition needs) being felt by people across the world should be addressed, Dr Marc Van Montagu, the World Food Prize Laureate, 2013, has said. 

It is not just enough to feed all; the nutrition requirements of individuals should also be met with the support of advanced technologies. “There is already a gap of 0.8 per cent between the demand for food and growth,” he said, speaking on ‘The Social and Economic Importance of Plant Biotechnology’ on the second day of Bangalore India Bio, 2014, here on Tuesday. “In the near future, this will be a cause for concern as the population increases.” 

Dr Montagu, who is a pioneer in developing the technique to transfer a foreign gene into a gene of interest and modify and improvise its features to get a better quality, further said: “Through the use of BT in food crops, one would naturally expect the produce to have a very good yield, be highly nutritious, taste better, be easier to farm, feed the stocks to industry, have tolerance to abiotic stresses and be less dependent on inputs like nutrients.” 

According to him, one of the key challenges is to provide stable product in the face of multitude which would be able to withstand the heaviest flood and the driest drought. “There should be an appropriate balance between profit, planet and people, and these three are the limits a society asks for,” he said. 

Terming the process of labelling genetically modified products a “fear-inducing factor”, Dr Montagnu said that overregulation and unnecessary testings had made it tough for small and medium enterprises to survive, thus leading to monopoly of the large ones. 

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