Alun Salt. ORCID 0000-0002-1261-4283

When he's not the web developer for AoB Blog, Alun Salt researches something that could be mistaken for the archaeology of science. His current research is about whether there's such a thing as scientific heritage and if there is how would you recognise it?

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  1. An lot of light and not much heat came from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences Study Week on ‘Transgenic Plants for Food Security in the Context of Development’ held in the Vatican earlier this year. The sum­mary of pro­ceed­ings are given at http://​tiny​url​.com/​p​o​n​t​i​f​i​c​a​l​-​s​u​m​m​ary, from papers pub­lished in http://​tiny​url​.com/​p​o​n​t​i​f​i​c​a​l​-​s​c​i​e​nce — New Biotechnology 27(5): 445 — 717 .

    The full present­a­tions are avail­able from http://​tiny​url​.com/​p​o​n​t​i​f​i​c​a​l​-​p​r​e​s​e​n​t​a​t​i​ons and give a remark­able range of data.

    The con­clu­sions of the meet­ing are
    “1. More than 1 bil­lion of the world pop­u­la­tion of 6.8 bil­lion people are cur­rently under­nour­ished, a con­di­tion that urgently requires the devel­op­ment of new agri­cul­tural sys­tems and tech­no­lo­gies.
    2. The expec­ted addi­tion of 2–2.5 bil­lion people to reach a total of approx­im­ately 9 bil­lion people by 2050 adds urgency to this prob­lem. 646
    3. The pre­dicted con­sequences of cli­mate change and asso­ci­ated decreases in the avail­ab­il­ity of water for agri­cul­ture will also affect our abil­ity to feed the increased world pop­u­la­tion.
    4. Agriculture as cur­rently prac­tised is unsus­tain­able, evid­enced by the massive loss of top­soil and unac­cept­ably high applic­a­tions of pesti­cides through­out most of the world.
    5. The appro­pri­ate applic­a­tion of GE and other mod­ern molecu­lar tech­niques in agri­cul­ture is con­trib­ut­ing toward address­ing some of these chal­lenges.
    6. There is noth­ing intrinsic about the use of GE tech­no­lo­gies for crop improve­ment that would cause the plants them­selves or the res­ult­ing food products to be unsafe.
    7. The sci­entific com­munity should be respons­ible for research and devel­op­ment (R&D) lead­ing to advances in agri­cul­tural pro­ductiv­ity, and should also endeav­our to see that the bene­fits asso­ci­ated with such advances accrue to the bene­fit of the poor as well as to those in developed coun­tries who cur­rently enjoy rel­at­ively high stand­ards of liv­ing.
    8. Special efforts should be made to provide poor farm­ers in the devel­op­ing world with access to improved GE crop vari­et­ies adap­ted to their local con­di­tions.
    9. Research to develop such improved crops should pay par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to local needs and crop vari­et­ies and to the capa­city of each coun­try to adapt its tra­di­tions, social her­it­age and admin­is­trat­ive prac­tices to achieve the suc­cess­ful intro­duc­tion of GE crops. “
    – see http://​tiny​url​.com/​p​o​n​t​i​f​i​c​a​l​-​c​o​n​c​l​u​s​i​ons