OECD Agriculture Director Prof. Tangermann
Essen, October 31, 2008 – Global agriculture needs to become still more productive in order to increase the food supply in the longer term. International experts believe that this can only be achieved by stepping up research efforts and deploying state-of-the-art technologies such as plant biotechnology. This was also the tenor of the research conference organized recently by Bayer CropScience. Some 180 scientists employed by the company attended the "R&D Campus 2008" in Essen to discuss the role of agricultural research and to exchange the latest research findings. The event showcased innovative approaches to increasing the yields of crop plants and protecting them against the effects of the climate.
Prof. Tangermann: "The prices of agricultural commodities will increase again."
In his keynote speech at Bayer CropScience's research conference, Professor Stefan Tangermann, Director of the Trade and Agriculture Directorate at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), addressed the current food-supply situation. He explained that the financial crisis currently affecting the world is depressing prices for agricultural raw materials. "However, once the crisis has been overcome," he continued, "longer-term factors will start to impact again." These include a global population that continues to grow, limited arable land, increasing demand for agricultural products and fossil fuels such as oil, and climate change. Tangermann therefore expects the prices of agricultural products to rise again in the medium term. "Once the financial crisis and its repercussions have passed, we anticipate price increases of between 10 and 50 percent for internationally traded agricultural commodities."
The OECD Agriculture Director emphasized the importance of innovation in boosting agricultural productivity, and emphasized that the research and development programs of international companies, in particular, need to provide the major impetus behind greater productivity. "We need higher yields per unit of land and yields which are more resilient to climatic factors, particularly drought," Tangermann said. In his speech he also talked about plant biotechnology. "The food crisis has reawakened awareness of the need to secure the food supply; this is encouraging a change in attitude and will lead to a calmer approach to green genetic engineering."
Prof. Berschauer: "We need a second green revolution"
Speaking at the company’s research conference in Essen, Professor Friedrich Berschauer, Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer CropScience AG, underlined the need for intensive agricultural research. "Without innovations we will not be able to continue producing sufficient quantities of high-quality food in the future," he said. Berschauer expressed his regret that public funding for agricultural research is no longer such a high priority. "We must return agriculture to the heart of international research and development policy and once again invest more intensively in research, technology and agricultural infrastructure. What we need is nothing less than a second green revolution," Berschauer exclaimed.
Prof. Wheeler: "Climate change is facing agriculture with some major challenges"
Prof. Tim Wheeler, Director of Plant Environment Laboratory and Head of the Crop andClimate group at the Walker Institute for Climate System Research based at Reading University in England believes that climate change will substantially increase the risk of production for farmers in many regions. “Farmers will have to adapt to warmer temperatures and more extremes of rainfall and temperature than experienced currently," Wheeler said. New challenges will arise from pests and diseases as their distributions are progressively affected by climate change, and these will have an impact on agriculture and, more particularly, food production. "In many parts of world," Wheeler explained, "significant gains in crop productivity could be achieved using technology and information that are already available, but have not so far been transferred to farming practice." However, Professor Wheeler also made it clear in his presentation that climate change is only one of many challenges to meeting global food demand over the next 50 years. "It will affect and interact with many of the factors such as crop productivity, crop trading relations, policies and incentives for bioenergy crops, and decisions on the use of water resources."
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, nutrition and high-tech materials. Bayer CropScience AG, a subsidiary of Bayer AG with annual sales of about EUR 5.8 billion (2007), is one of the world’s leading innovative crop science companies in the areas of crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and plant biotechnology. The company offers an outstanding range of products and extensive service backup for modern, sustainable agriculture and for non-agricultural applications. Bayer CropScience has a global workforce of about 17,800 and is represented in more than 120 countries. This and further news is available at: www.newsroom.bayercropscience.com
A podcast on this topic can be found here:www.podcast.bayer.com.
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