Implementation of Transgenic Foods Clash with Integrating Aboriginal Sources of Knowledge

DAWN – Delegates of the Committee on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) are off to a strong start in the initial talks on the role of science, technology and innovation in ensuring food security. Talks of incorporating the research and use of transgenic crops, also known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), were early out the gate. Similar enthusiasm for integrating indigenous science and technology into strategies for tackling food insecurity was shown. The problem? The greater use of GMOs may threaten how aboriginal practices and traditions can be carried out by potentially affecting surrounding biological diversity. While the greater use of a traditional practice may not be practical on a wider scale.

The delegate from Iran initially spoke to the point on the greater use of ‘transgenic foods’ stating that it helped increase national production of food from ~30% to ~60%. While these numbers seem impressive, the Russian Delegate promptly brought up the issue of the long-term effects of GMOs and the uncertainty of their suitability to address food security. Concerns over the environmental impacts of the GMOs might reduce biological diversity and turn an initially good idea into question. Further research would have to be conducted in order to ensure that the use of GMOs did not hinder agricultural and traditional practices.

Other delegations stressed the importance of integrating indigenous science and traditions and improving their representation in food security strategies. El Salvador expressed its worry that the lack of representation of aboriginal knowledge further propagated the issue of food security by excluding the very people that face this challenge on a daily basis. Similar remarks were made by the delegates of Poland and Turkey who both emphasised that there needed to be a greater exchange of knowledge, particularly indigenous knowledge, in moving towards agricultural practices that reflected “environmental protectionism.” These sentiments may conflict with the momentum GMOs have and require further deliberation and consideration of both solutions.

With high hopes of this committee writing a comprehensive solution they must reconcile how science and technology of modern and traditional endeavours may compliment one another in moving towards sustainable agricultural practices.