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2017
Asia Needs more Dialogue
Solutions to urban pollution may prove complex
Spread of ESGs could herald new global movement
Investing in quality education is imperative if India wants to reap demographic dividends
China needs to lead in new multi-stakeholder world
China’s B&R initiative leading a resurgence of Asia
Education is key - but long-term: Can we survive?
New wave of robots will be beneficial to all
China needs to continue with its ‘heavy lifting’
Time is right for Chinese firms to invest in Europe
Robots to the rescue for China?
Asian Multinationals are Going Global, But to Where?
China ratchets forward with energy efforts
China’s calm necessary for globalization push
Bridging managerial gaps involves trust-building
China well-placed to power its future through green technology advances
China's new 'springtime' is here
2016
China’s moves show it’s banking on the future
Mindset for action at the G20 summit will be determined by Chinese presidency
Chinese head-hunting intensifies for rare managers that can steer overseas firms
US talk of isolation jars with growing links in Europe and Asia
Electoral rhetoric on global trade not in sync with reality
Is it time to be prudent and consider austerity policies again?
What will we do if we have no oil?
Unlock talent by finding the right fit for a person
The benefits are real and tangible
Trade along China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ won’t succeed without the currency of trust
Reasons for optimism about the long term
2015
Can big oil go green and win?
Poorer Nations Could Sway Climate Talks
Combating Idleness and Deprivation
How China can be a model of food sustainability for the developing world
Kyoto II – Is it a Done Deal?
A meeting of the two largest economic powers
Why China will experience a 'soft' landing
Beware of superstitions
The Elephant and Dragon move ahead
G-7 target on fossil fuels raises many questions
Why Battle for Net Neutrality in the US Matters Globally
China’s resurgence – the ‘normal new’
Wanted: A managerial culture that embraces cultural differences
China's early education plan a smart investment in the future
The New Normal for China and India
2014
China's infrastructure push offers a sure track to better growth
US-China climate pact a good start, but not quite enough
Rethink the human’s place in the ‘digital revolution’
China springs a carbon surprise
Infrastructure - the invisible hand in full view
Dialogue vital for survival of Iraqi nation
China must nurture a new generation of beautiful minds
Great expectations in China and India
GM Cereals – The Pros and Corns
Time to be Honest about Our Energy Prospects
Weathering the Storm of Climate Change
Making a Big Decision? Beware of Your Biases
West Deserves Better Logistics Infrastructure
Digital Currencies do Represent the Future
From 'Printed' Houses to Wooden Skyscrapers
It’s time to bail out our schools, not our firms
Solution to India’s housing shortage – print new ones!
And the most promising green technologies of 2014 are ...
Transport infrastructure key to domestic, export growth
Oil stopgaps: Not worth risking
2013
Why the US should grant Edward Snowden amnesty
May we be more optimistic!
China headed for another massive social experiment?
A dialogue that worked
Yes, politicians deserve vacations - because we benefit
NPOs, NGOs invaluable as creators of dialogue
Look closer and ask: Is America reinventing itself?
Boston bombings case underlines need for dialogue
Millennium Development Goals or own goals?
As usual it's about balance - and timing - of course
Chinese strategists make right moves for growth
2012
Preparing for tomorrow
Austerity or growth?
Japan in danger of becoming 'just a place to fly over'
Beware of the business cycle?
An inconvenient truth
Limited offer sale: Buy a country
Where did our money go?
Leading from behind - a year of elections is almost over
Driving towards a green future
Waiting for springtime
Preserve or Perish
Startlingly similar Asia policy for Obama, Romney
Globalisation remains an irresistible trend
Google has the edge in smartphone war
U.S. Braces for China's Rise
Mankind’s General Scourge
The summer holidays are over and nothing has changed!
Put the hidden trillions to work
Making sense of India’s woes and wonders
Storm in a teacup!
Let’s give bad bankers a venue to admit their sins
News is about depth, not puff or velocity
Booming India, but too few toilets
Delayed Court decisions doesn't mean one may continue to play 'Great Game'
We need media to reflect on data and offer public a balanced view
Big polluters can lead in forging common purpose
The weighty issue of choosing a leader
EU-India Relations - Facing similar challenges
Educating with a goal
The Judicial Malaise
We are growing out, but not growing up
EU´s retrenchment enigma
Urbulence in the Eurozone and the effect on SMEs
Skolkovo May Help Russia to Diversify
Make things more effective
Tapping into the Commonwealth connection
Innovative models for public finance
Facebook revolution but Indian style
The feel-good factor
Asian investors - a private equity opportunity
India needs to be taller and stronger
China´s low sales volume...
Nations playing leapfrog
Shafts of sunlight
What webs we weave
As performers go to Davos, the circus steals the show
Can we control the politicians?
 
2011
Europe’s reminiscence
China firms should go for win-win in overseas ventures
Of procrastination...
Making sense of profiteering
Truth about financial mess must be laid bare
Small is also beautiful
China can help Europe with debt crisis
Excising the cancer of global corruption
Education, a critical asset
Arab uprisings set in motion forces of creative destruction
A new era of change
We must ensure better education for all
Beijing wary of bankrolling a lost cause
Asean's re-emergence as a local and global leader
Why India's Role in the Global Economy is Still Work in Progress
Its the leadership, stupid!
Reverse globalisation: The new buzzword
GM Cereals – The Pros and Corns
By Frank-Jürgen Richter
Business Times, June 13, 2014
 

The arguments for or against are bedded in discussions of food security, water security and population growth

The topic of genetic modification is wide and fraught with strong rhetoric. I will restrict my thoughts here to the globally important cereals: wheat, maize and rice. Recently, the French government moved to ban GM crops permanently, though only the Monsanto “Mon810” maize had been allowed.

These seeds have genes added to resist dry conditions and combat the European corn borer pest, reducing the need for pesticides. Furthermore they are infertile plants so they will not pollinate and pollute normal crops.

The arguments for or against GM cereals are bedded in discussions of food security, water security and population growth (often to the distant future of 2100). There are many who consider the promotion of GM crops to be a “big business thing” since research is funded often by large firms active in the agriculture sector who seem to promote seeds too costly for poor people – so we become embroiled in a rich/poor or First/Third World argument rather than taking a more rational view of what is an appropriate agricultural policy sustainable in differing places and economies.

Nowadays developed nations have good logistics, the developing nations are creating good logistics (China comes to mind), while much of Asia and Africa suffer from poor logistics or none at all: their growers have no access to markets. In their case, local people suffer glut or famine according to the weather and GM crops are unused.

Global population, now seven billion, will peak at 11 billion by 2100, falling then to about 10 billion (though the outcome so far into the future is uncertain). European and the Americas’ populations are expected to remain as at present.

Asia and sub-Saharan Africa will see the greatest increase and it is in these regions that transport logistics are poorest. It is perhaps this single aspect that drives arguments about GM or not, becoming conflated with arguments against “big business” who promote solutions more applicable in the rich world, especially given the higher cost of GM seed.

Our decision-making is not logical and rational. Over the years we have believed that we will die, explode or something . . . if we travelled faster than a ridden horse or flew faster than the speed of sound . . . and we would not tolerate heart transplants, believing that action would alter the soul of the organ receiver. Today in France, protesters flatten fields of GM maize despite farmers achieving better yields. All the while the globe needs more grains for food, for oils and for bio-mass, for energy purposes as its population increases, generally becoming more affluent and living longer.

The very poor can benefit from the development of local roadways and mobile markets. Manually carrying produce is hard work and unprofitable in total energy terms. New tracks in the outback need only support bicycles with trailers . . . then at 15-20km per hour a farmer may travel farther with more produce to the markets which may onward link using trucks. Produce aggregation supports all farmers – for sales, for buying new tools, and in being entrepreneurial.

We must support the World Bank and the local NGOs who undertake rural road and education development. Private/public projects are deemed to have too low a commercial return in the outback: they begin infrastructure investment only at township level or higher.

GM arguments thrive in the rich world; they are not applicable when there is no access to a market allowing a poor family to enrich itself by selling excess output. Neither are they applicable in a developing nation with dysfunctional supply chains allowing “40 per cent of food to be lost from field to fork”. The GM argument is more appropriately focused on effective use of land in the developed world.

Developed world fields are immense following farm consolidations; they demand high levels of mechanisation. Consistent data gathering has promoted micro-fertilisation regimes controlled by GPS systems. Monsanto, and others, are now offering fully digitised systems that present farmers with a map of which seeds to plant, at what depths with varying post-planting treatments according to the weather – and planting could be done almost without human intervention.

That could not be done in Africa or Asia – data does not exist, fields are too small (even the roads do not allow large equipment to pass) and the GM seeds are too costly, although yields would be enhanced. For the richer European and American farmers, higher-yielding GM crops with their tightly managed genetic characteristics are worth the higher cost.

Genetic modifications of plant stock have been going on for years. Darwin wrote in 1859 about plant breeding; modern genetics was founded on Mendel’s 1865 reports of pea breeding; the 1980s introduced genetically modified (virus resistant) tomatoes and tobacco. Now a vast variety of foodstuff contain some GM substance. There is no evidence yet of human harm arising from a GM crop. But “yet” does not equate to “never” and people remain reluctant to purchase GM products if it is declared on the package.

We must be vigilant in our discussions about food security. We cannot be complacent and accept poor or biased research, and funding conflicts need to be stated. It is only through open discussion that better decisions may be made – by farmers whose livelihoods are at stake, and by ministers who often are in post for too short a time to become an agricultural expert and who rely upon their juniors who may succumb to lobbyists and corruption. GM seeds promise modifications that resist bugs, droughts, floods and salinity and permit greater mechanisation – increasing yields at each stage. All the time, however, we must focus on appropriate locally sustainable solutions – be this in a poor nation or a rich nation.

 

The writer is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global visions community.


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