ARC welcomes Bill Gates food comments

2012-01-30 13:17

Cape Town - The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in South Africa has welcomed comments made by Bill Gates on the state of research into agriculture.

"Given the central role that food plays in human welfare and national stability, it is shocking - not to mention short-sighted and potentially dangerous - how little money is spent on agricultural research," Gates wrote in his 2012 annual letter.

The ARC welcomed Gates' comments and said that it was committed to facilitating advances in food security.

"The ARC has for 20 years helped the agricultural community to be competitive, to ensure food security at national level and make a massive contribution to social and economic wellbeing," the organisation said.

Gates is known for his philanthropic work and has donated a large percentage of the fortune he made as Microsoft CEO to projects around the world.


In his letter, he emphasised that poverty was still pervasive and that innovation was required to ensure food security for vulnerable populations.

"Innovation in agriculture is essential, and investment in world-class agricultural research delivers benefits to the economy, to food security, household nutrition and South African competitiveness in international markets," said ARC chief executive and president, Dr Shadrack Moephuli.

Food security is reaching critical proportions as production declines and populations increase.

"By the year 2050, if nothing is done to correct the situation, rice production [South East Asia and sub Saharan Africa] will decrease by 14%, a decline in wheat production by 44% - 49%, and a decline in maize production by 9% -19%," senior researcher Danielle Nierenberg, at the World Watch Institute, told News24 recently.

Activists and scientists agree that water shortages and food security will have the most immediate impact on poor people in susceptible areas as climate change takes hold.
According to the UN millennium development goal monitor, countries in West Africa particularly struggle with extreme poverty with up to 70% of the population in Nigeria living on less than $1 per day.

The answer though, is not in genetically modified organisms, Nierenberg said.

'Silver bullets'

"I think there's been too much of a focus on silver bullets and simply increasing yields. It's not the quantity of food grown that needs to be increased, but necessary investments, especially in agricultural research, infrastructure, marketing and storage, need to be made, to 'feed the world'."

The South African population is on the increase and the ARC said that science was critical help develop ways to feed the country, particularly as the number of commercial farmers decreased.

"Agricultural science has enabled South Africa to keep feeding its people even while the number of commercial farmers has declined dramatically, but funding remains under pressure," Moephuli said.

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  • goyougoodthing - 2012-01-30 13:53

    He supports MONSANTO, the huge corporation whose goal is to ensure all food can only be grown through them. They have reduced the number of available varieties of food, as well as modified them to only grow in products they make. They are also infertile and won't self seed. This is very very evil.

      Godfrey - 2012-01-30 15:13

      I go along with you on the "infertile" seed. That is unacceptable and criminally dangerous. But not all genetically modified food is bad otherwise we would, for instance, not have bananas, juicy tomatoes or edible maize.

      goyougoodthing - 2012-01-30 16:45

      Godfrey you have a point, however the problem with GM food is that it stops the natural evolution of species and this can cause disease. The great potato blight in Ireland was caused because they only grew 3 varieties of the 100 or so potato available. Before the new word was found all of Europe and Asia managed without tomatoes! We need Heirloom seeds and we need to grow our own to introduce diversity into the mix. If you have ever planted a potato you would know that they do not produce potatoes anymore. And from seed if you don't use the right potting mix they don't produce fruit! Owning the means of production is not only criminal, it is also dangerous. One virus and all the maize is gone,, then what>

      goyougoodthing - 2012-01-30 16:45

      *new World not word

      goyougoodthing - 2012-01-30 17:04

      I rest my Monsanto case right here:

      RE - 2012-02-01 07:13

      What does bill gates know about Agricultural? only thing he knows is 2 steal software.

  • Mark - 2012-01-30 18:17

    The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) is but a shadow of its former self - and that is a pity. It has been sidelined and starved of funds by it's political Masters and the general emnity oozing from this government towards commercial-farmers.

  • aardvarkie - 2012-01-31 11:49

    Give me a break, this has nothing to do with alleviating poverty and everything to do with ensuring huge profits for GMO companies like Monsanto. The seeds can't germinate so the farmers are forever tied into buying from them. The GMO seeds corrupt natural seeds and in some cases "bad batches" of seed sold to farmers has bankrupted them. Remember Monsanto started off with Agent Orange during the Vietnam war, and are now in control of Black Ops. They have NO interest in humanitarian causes, you're a fool if you think they do. Also, the seeds are genetically "injected" with pesticides - that's what you're eating! They use political agendas to ensure their profits too - just read up on what they did in Canada and North America, they're like a Mafia death squad. Catch a wake up South Africa! Hell no to GMO.

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