"Agriculture joins too late the climate debate"

On 29 July 2011 from 10:30 until 11:30 at the National Research Institute of Animal Production in Balice at Radziwiłł Palace – Scientific Council Room there was a presentation of Jack Bobo, Senior Advisor for Biotechnology at the office of Foreign Trade and Agriculture of American Department of State entitled :”Agriculture joins too late the climate debate”.

The meeting was organized by the National Research Institute of Animal Production, American Embassy and Agricultural Office in Warsaw. Over 40 people participated in this, among which there were the representatives of the National Research Institute of Animal Production, Jagiellonian University, Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Jastrzębiec, the Gazeta Krakowska and a monthly AURA – Ochrona Środowiska. The speech by Jack Bobo was preceded by the meeting with the board of the directors of the Institute during which the guests were presented with a short history of the activity of the institute, its state-of-the-art achievements and research issues. Apart from climatic changes the subject of his speech was biotechnology and genetically modified organisms. In the beginning, he noticed that 3 out of 6 the biggest biotechnological companies are in Europe, which is one of the biggest markets in this field. On the other hand, the United States is one of the biggest producers of both GMO and organic food. Agriculture joins late the debate concerning climatic change, which will have the influence on environment. In view of the increase of the number of population in the world we face the challenge: we need to double the amount of food. Investments in agricultural markets are decreasing. On one hand agriculture is a victim, but on the other hand it contributes to climatic changes among other by production of almost 32% of greenhouse gases and cutting a large number of forests. That is why, agriculture can help us solve problems associated with climate. It is cheaper to restrict the emission of coal in agriculture than in energetic sector therefore we have the possibility to pay more or use less energy. We must invest in alternative sources of energy like wind energy, solar energy or biogas. Then Jack Bobo enumerated how much agricultural production in particular countries will increase in the next decade – in Brazil – by 40%, in the U.S.A. and Canada – by 10 – 15 % and in Europe by 4 %. Poland comes off much more favourably in this field than European average. In such countries like the U.S.A. GMO did not affect agricultural production thanks to the use of such measures like pesticides. At present, biotechnological crops cause the fall of the emission of carbon dioxide what is associated with smaller use of fuel and carbon capture and storage in soil. Biotechnology may help us in other ways as well in the form of production of draught – resistant plants and reduction of the use of fertilizers. Solar and wind energy in which we invest are not so efficient. Nowadays, we have a large return on investment in agriculture. Jack Bobo finished his speech talking about the protection of plant varieties and patents with which the following things are associated: promoting new breeders and breeding, encouraging to build public-private partnerships, elimination of barriers, which hamper business trade with protected varieties and promoting investment. The presentation was accompanied by a short concluding discussion during which the participants asked the leader questions concerning agriculture. After finished speech the guests were presented with the laboratory of biotechnology of the Institute of Animal Production.