The Importance of Biotechnology in Meeting Global Food Requirements

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1 The Importance of Biotechnology in Meeting Global Food Requirements Jennifer A Thomson Department of Molecular and Cell Biology University of Cape Town South Africa

2 Projected cereal yield in 2025 Region Sub-Saharan Africa Shortfall (million tons) East & Southeast Asia Middle East

3 The Role of Agriculture in Africa 50-75% of the labour force in agriculture 70% of population depends on agriculture as sole source of income Africa s crop production is the lowest in the world 1.7 tons/ha Africa; 4.0 tons/ha global 25% of grain imported

4 The Role of Agriculture in Africa cont. 40% of the harvest may be lost due to post-harvest damage Population will double by 2025 to 1.5 billion Most African countries depend on agriculture for foreign currency earnings

5 The Role of Biotechnology in African Agriculture Biotechnology is a tool needed to Improve efficiency, quality and productivity Reduce costs Open new niche markets Africa needs the opportunity to access this technology and assess its potential

6 Case Study of Mrs Namurunda Single mother farming 1 hectare in Kenya Soils acidic, weathered and leached Needs 1 tonne mixed crops to survive and 2 tonnes income Often harvests < 1 tonne = insecure farm Potential = 2 tonnes


8 New technologies Cheaper fertilizer Livestock-crop interactions N 2 fixation by maize-legumes in double rows Biocontrol of mealybugs Result = secure farm


10 UNIDO: Biotechnology Priorities in Africa Virus resistant African crops eg. Maize streak virus Parasitic weed resistance eg. Striga Bt maize African varieties Decrease mycotoxin levels eg. Bt maize Drought tolerant African crops

11 Priorities in Africa Virus Virus resistance

12 Maize streak virus is endemic in Africa causing huge economic losses to commercial and small scale farmers



15 Control and transgenic MSV resistant plants

16 Healthy Cassava Virus-infected Cassava

17 Non-Transgenic Transgenic

18 Papaya resistant to Papaya ringspot virus

19 Priorities in Africa Virus resistance Herbicide resistance

20 Striga = witch weed


22 # # # # # Striga in west Kenya (X # # # affects 5.3 million # # # # # # %[ # (X farmers # # # on 211,000 ha # # # 397,000 t crop loss # # # # (X worth $80,000,000/yr after de Groote et al., 2001



25 Priorities in Africa Virus resistance Herbicide resistance Insect Resistance Fungus resistance

26 Some results of insect resistant cotton and maize in South Africa Small scale farmer increased profits: participated; ; ; ; >2000; 2003 Bt maize resistant to post-harvest fungus no mycotoxins which cause i.a. throat cancer Whiter-than-white maize non-target insects, birds and frogs insecticide poisonings

27 Bt-cotton vs. non Bt-cotton Bt-cotton vs. non Bt-cotton (both planted at the same time) (both planted at the same time) Bt-cotton Small compact plant Many mature bolls ready for harvest -3 sprays for non bollworm pests Non Bt-cotton Large plant, excessive vegetative growth Difficult to spray Few bolls to harvest 10 sprays for all insect pests






33 Areas (%) sown to maize hybrids, open-pollinated varieties (OPVs) and farmer-saved seed in selected countries in 1999 Region Hybrids OPVs Farmer-saved seed East and South Africa North Africa South East Asia China Mexico and Central America South America West Europe USA/Canada

34 Economic impacts of Bt maize in the USA, China, Australia, Argentina, Mexico and India from 1996 until 2004 Country Yield effect Cost savings (/ha) USA 5% all years $15.5 all years Canada 5% all years $15.5 all years Argentina 9% all years Nil all years Philippines 25% all years PS800 in 2003 and 2004 Spain 6.3% all years 42 Euros all years

35 Priorities for Africa Virus resistance Herbicide resistance Insect Resistance Fungus resistance Drought Tolerance

36 We have taken genes from a resurrection plant for introduction into crops to generate drought tolerant crops Hydrated Dehydrated

37 Resurrection Plant


39 Differential Screening of X.viscosa (85%-5% RWC) cdna library

40 Hydrated A Dehydrated B C D A B C D

41 Protein phosphatase XvPP Membrane protein: XVSAP1 Detoxification XvPer1 XvPrx2 XvVTC2 Protection factors: XVT8(Dehydrin), XvHSP90 Signalling: XvEFH XvCaM Synthesis of osmoprotectants: XvGolS, AtGolS, ALDRXV4, XvINO1 Transcription factor XvDREB1A Proton ATPase subunit: XVVATP1

42 XvSap1 membrane protein Water stress Controls Transgenics

43 WT VT L8 L12 Dehydrated transgenic Arabidopsis plants (bottom) Control (top) expressing aldose reductase

44 WT VT Xv 7 Xv 8 Xv 12 Xv 34 Controls Transgenics


46 * > ha Spain* Germany Romania* India* Canada* China* USA* Philippines* Mexico* Australia* Honduras Brazil* Colombia Argentina* Uruguay* Paraguay* South Africa*

47 GM Crops in 2004 Uruguay > 99% soybean = GM Brazil GM soybean by 2/3 5 m ha Canada GM canola, maize and soybean by 23% 5.4 m ha Argentina ~ 100% GM soybean and GM maize and cotton 16.2 m ha

48 GM Crops in 2004 cont. Paraguay ~ 60% GM soybean 1.2 m ha Spain GM maize by 80% (12% national crop) 58,000 ha Romania 50,000 ha GM soybean South Africa 25 x GM white maize since 2004 = 155,000 ha

49 GM Crops in the Pipeline Phytoremediation remove lead and cadmium contamination Maize resistant to corn rootworm in USA Vaccines in plants

50 DNA coding for vaccine Introduce into plant by genetic engineering DOSE HUMANS Formulate into pills or capsules Harvest plants, extract protein

51 GM Crops in the Pipeline cont. Golden rice pro-vitamin A and iron Golden sorghum and cassava Super Sorghum Project and Bio Cassava Plus


53 GM Crops in the Pipeline cont. Improved bananas via tissue culture


55 Conclusion Transgenic food plants are not a magic bullet for feeding the Third World We need also to: improve infrastructure educate women end wars and corruption GM crops can help to feed hungry people