Last week in Manilla, Monsanto partnered with the US-ASEAN Business Council to sponsor a forum on “Maximizing Nutrition with Modern Agriculture” at the Dusit Thani Hotel. The seminar was attended by more than 60 people from Philippine government offices, media, non-government organizations and universities.
Milton Stokes, director of Global Health and Nutrition Outreach for Monsanto, discussed innovative means of safe and sustainable food production through traditional plant breeding, biotechnology, crop protection and precision agriculture.
Based on the company’s extensive centers on plant breeding research, Stokes said that taste, texture and convenience all make up for an increasing vegetable consumption.
“Traits of a wild tomato are bred into commercial varieties for sweeter taste and more appealing color,” he said. “Extended quality watermelons lose much less juice that is less messy when sliced, eaten and stored. And mini bell peppers present better value.”
The forum also highlighted the environmental and economic benefits of modern agriculture.
“In the absence of biotechnology, it would take an additional 123 million hectares (about 300 million acres) to produce the same amount of food produced in 2012. Biotechnology prevents an estimated 26.7 billion kg of CO2 emissions, equivalent to removing 11.8 M cars from the road for a year,” Stokes said.
The attendees actively asked questions around the safety of biotech crops, including allegations that these crops cause cancer. Stokes said he can confidently say that there is no connection between biotech crops and cancer.
Stokes noted Monsanto’s commitment to pursue smarter ways to nourish the world, helping Filipino farmers produce better harvests with fewer resources.