MAIZALL is actively contributing to the discussions preceding the United Nations 2021 Food System Summit. One of its Directors is a member of the Summit’s Champion’s Network and several have shared their insights and experiences with respect to sustainable farming in the Americas during virtual conferences on the subject. MAIZALL’s agreed position is summarized below.
MAIZALL recognizes the importance of the United Nations 2021 Food System Summit. According to FAO’s 2020 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, the number of undernourished people in the world has been on the rise since 2015, with an estimated 690 million people suffering chronic undernourishment, 135 million people facing acute food insecurity, and 2 billion people living with moderate food insecurity in 2019. Several reports suggest that the Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the situation. The world’s population is expected to increase by 2 billion persons in the next 30 years (much of which in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia), from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050, according to a 2019 United Nations report. Combined with a growing middle class in many countries, this development means that agricultural productivity growth will need to accelerate to ensure adequate calories and nutrition for the total population Against the backdrop of a changing climate, this will have to be accomplished through sustainable production while using less land, energy and water.
The challenges faced by food systems are highly complex, context-specific and vary from country to country. Different approaches and solutions that are tailored to local conditions can contribute to both food security and sustainable agricultural outcomes, a reality which MAIZALL believes must be recognized in the Summit’s conclusions. In this light, MAIZALL supports efforts that promote the Western Hemisphere’s perspective on sustainable production practices.
Digital equipment, improved seeds, safe and advanced crop protection products and other inputs and their sustainable use have already brought many benefits for farmers, consumers and the environment – and more innovation is on the way. Farmers in Argentina, Brazil, the United States and other countries in North and South America have embraced technology to increase production and to do so in a sustainable way.
MAIZALL believes that biotechnology plays a central role in innovation and is one of the main tools necessary to increase production sustainably. New and better products are constantly being developed, and MAIZALL’s farmers are committed to using them as soon as their effectiveness and safety have been confirmed. Biotechnology has improved the quality of the production on our farms and is a scale-neutral technology that can benefit large and small farmers all over the world. It has also allowed farmers to grow their crops more sustainably by facilitating no-till farming, the use of cover crops and the reduction of hazardous plant protection products.
These environmental benefits have been documented in several scientific studies. For example, A 2018 meta-study analysis by the Institute of Life Sciences in Italy , of 6,006 peer-reviewed studies from 1996 to 2016 showed that Genetically Modified (GM) maize produced a greater yield of 5.6 percent to 24.5 percent compared to non-GM maize. Data came from GM maize production in the United States, Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, and Australia. The researchers also noted that some studies showed the use of GM maize reduced the active ingredient of herbicides and insecticides by 10.1 percent and 45.2 percent, respectively. Another 2018 report (Brookes & Barfoot ) found that the adoption of GM herbicide tolerant (GMHT) maize resulted in a significant reduction in the volume of herbicide active ingredient usage (a reduction of 242 million kg of active ingredient) and an improvement in the associated environmental impact.
Meeting the demands for food in areas of shortage requires an open global trading system that is based on predictable, transparent and science-based food safety regulations. Farmers will need access to the full range of safe and innovative agricultural production tools and practices. As farmers, we want to be good stewards of our land. It is our greatest asset. Improved technology is essential to good stewardship so that we can leave our land in even better condition for future generations.