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Plant breeders are asking the EU not to slow down the second green revolution
The National Association of Plant Breeders has stated that agriculture is entering a new green revolution linked to advances in genetics, and they have asked the EU not to retard this development and to ensure a "modern, competitive, and sustainable production."
After participating at the meeting of the General Assembly of the Anove, Antonio Villarroel, the Secretary General of this entity, said that it would be catastrophic if the EU applies the same model that stopped genetically modified organisms (GMOs), because it would leave Europe unable to participate in developing this technology.
Villarroel said that GMOs are being surpassed by far more precise techniques that are already being used in the field of biotechnology, pharmacy, and medicine.
"We no longer have to take, cut, and paste pieces of genes. Now, we understand where there is a gene that affects us and we can silence it; or conversely, we can also activate it so that the products are more resistant to diseases, or to reduce the use of plant protection products and waste. The potential is enormous, if there are no regulatory obstacles," he said.
The green revolution, kidnapped?
According to Villarroel, "Europe's current challenge is deciding what it wants: either to produce food and develop agriculture or to continue implementing a bucolic model that has no competitiveness. If we give up technology, we'll definitely lose the race and affect farmers and society in general", he said. He also added that the EU had decided to renounce GMOs in the past, even though all the warnings and alarms triggered by some sectors were not justified.
It also affects the strategic nature of the companies operating in the world and the investments they make in plant breeding, which is higher than the investments they make in the automotive and software industries.
Meanwhile, the president of Anove, Julian Arnedo, drew attention to piracy, which could cause losses of more than 100 million euro a year to legal businesses. He said this sector spent 15 to 35% of its sales income to invest in research, far more than the pharmaceutical sector, but that achieving a return on these investments was only possible if intellectual property was respected.
The second vice president of the International Seed Federation (ISF), Eduard Fito, said the sector was growing; gaining more recognition worldwide, and capturing the attention of investors. Spain, he said, won't achieve the levels of major powers like the US and Brazil, but will continue to be one of the most important in the world.
He also said that some of the future challenges included regulating the methods to obtain new seeds and the fight against piracy, which is around 50% and may even reach 75-80%.
Anove's Assembly created two separate working groups with the accession of companies for soft fruits and plants for medicinal uses, respectively, and also took steps to create another working group for potatoes, with the participation of European firms, to improve this food.
The seed industry in Europe has a turnover of 6,800 million euro and covers a total of 7,200 companies. They employ more than 50,000 people.
Publication date: 3/20/2017
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