JOHANNESBURG – BRICS agriculture ministers have vowed to tackle the controversial issue of producing genetically modified foods to enhance food security.
In a joint declaration, the ministers said efforts to entrench the right to food were of priority for all member states.
They said genetically modified foods needed to be researched further.
“We fully support the global fight against hunger (and) encourage members to endorse (it) at the highest level of policy framework and call on the international community to scale up assistance and support the United Nations bodies and initiatives in the Action Plan 2017 – 2020,” the misters said in declaration.
Agriculture ministers from the BRICS countries met at Skukuza in Mpumalanga this week.
They said while they supported modern technology such as the issue of drones and agricultural mechanisation to enhance food security, they still did not have consensus biotechnology and genetically modified foods.
When asked what BRICS position on these issues were, South Africa’s Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana left it to his Brazilian counterpart, Blairo Borges Maggi, to answer the question.
“Technology and productivity are together in agriculture. Without the use of technology there is no viable agricultural production,” he said.
Zokwana later chipped in: “Issues of technology are broad, we need to do more research with university and other stakeholders in order to improve food security.”
He said food safety was important. “Look, people don’t want to eat food and then get sick. We will engage and do more research on the use of biotechnology and biosecurity.”
Zokwana said a number of memorandum of understandings, on food security and agricultural imports and exports, would be signed among the BRICS countries during the upcoming summit in Johannesburg next month.
“We want to be ahead of time in guaranteeing food security,” he added.
Russia’s deputy minister of agriculture Sergey Levin said climate change hampered food security.
“All of us agree that we need to do all our best to improve food production and agri production.”
Indian High Commissioner Ruchira Kamboj called for a need to consolidate efforts to realise agriculture’s full benefits including the use of precision farming and improved technology.
Speaking to Business Report earlier, China’s Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Yu Kangzhen, said: “We have reached a series of consensus on how to fight climate change together. We have formalised and realised some national strategies in how to deal with it. We have been taking many measures, adjusting agriculture policy, and building infrastructures using agricultural technologies to help us to cope with climate change.”
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