Seed Security for Food Security Forum Generates Lively Discussions
The third annual DuPont Seed Security for Food Security Forum brought together nine experts to discuss the role of seed security and crop diversity in global food security and agricultural sustainability. The event, moderated by Jim Gaffney, Global Biotech Affairs and Regulatory Lead – Ag Traits, attracted a diverse and global audience during World Food Prize Week.
Throughout the morning, attendees heard about the Global Crop Diversity Trust, a seed bank, where global germplasm is conserved for future use and about the complexity of seed systems in Africa and how consistently delivering quality seed to farmers requires a collaborative effort. They also learned about the Access to Seeds Index, which named DuPont Pioneer as a leader in row crops seed delivery to farmers thanks to the combination of the strongest breeding platforms in multiple crops, a global network of distribution, and efforts towards delivering to smallholder farmers.
The luncheon speaker, Paul Schickler, retired DuPont Pioneer President, spoke about food security in Africa and the company’s engagement in the region to deliver new tools, technology and the highest quality seed to smallholder farmers.
The afternoon session was more technical, with discussion focused on the importance and challenges of cassava, a crucial food security crop that is a staple in the diets of millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa. Unlike maize, which has been undergoing breeding selection for thousands of years, modern cassava varieties may be as few as three generations removed from wild relatives. The speakers emphasized that with improved gene editing tools and transformation capabilities, and the just-inked agreement between the Danforth Plant Science Center and Pioneer, making improvements to cassava will become more efficient.
“A recurring theme for the day was that we are all in this together, and no one person nor organization can make the changes necessary to create food security and prosperity, regardless of geography or farm size,” said Gaffney. “Multiple organizations, like those gathered at the symposium, must work together and make an impact. DuPont Pioneer sponsors the forum for that very reason – to help make connections amongst diverse individuals and help create opportunities for collaboration.”
Neal Gutterson, Vice President of Research, emphasized the importance of seed security in his closing remarks. Recent agreements have put CRISPR-Cas is in the hands of scientists around the world, said Gutterson, and the seed banks are worth more than ever because of it. The greater access to and use of effective gene-editing tools makes the diversity of the world’s genetics more likely than ever to reach greater potential.