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Crop Official Says Genomic Tools Can 'Alleviate' Food Shortages, But Private-Public Sector Alliances Needed

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Researchers in the public and private agricultural and genomic sectors must collaborate more before genomic technologies can “alleviate” global food shortages, according to remarks scheduled to be made by the chairman of an international crops organization.

According to the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, “researchers believe that biotechnology, including genomic technologies, “ha[ve] the potential to improve the nutritional content of food crops and, crucially, resistance to insects and disease.”

But in a keynote speech scheduled to take place during the group’s annual genomic conference in London later this month, Simon Best, chairman of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, “warns of a caveat to this enthusiasm for the introduction of genomic technologies” and will call for “greater and more efficient collaboration between the public and private sectors involved in this research.”

Genomic technologies “have the potential to improve the nutritional content of food crops and, crucially, resistance to insects and disease.”

Roger Cortbaoui, director of development partnerships for the International Potato Centre was quoted in the ESRC statement that “there is a need to build ‘useful partnerships and networks including with the private sector’ in an industry where basic research is dominated by public funded research centers.”
The ESRC Innogen Centre's annual conference, entitled 'Genomics for Development: The Life Sciences and Poverty Reduction,' will be held on Sept. 5-6 at Regent's College in London.
Innogen is an alliance between the University of Edinburgh and the Open University, and comprises the ESRC center for social and economic research on innovation in genomics.

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