Updated on 7 June 2012
The production of pharmaceuticals with recombinant DNA technology has enjoyed significant successes over a quarter century, with minimal controversy. However, the use of recombinant DNA-modified plants for food, feed, and environmental applications has not fared that well. These shortcomings have helped to generate "The Big Lie" that recombinant DNA technology applied to agriculture and food production is unproven, unsafe, untested, unregulated, and unwanted. Those misconceptions have given rise to unwarranted opposition and distorted public policy. The issue needs to be tackled globally with the help of academicians, regulators, industries, consumers, and policy makers.
Breakthrough biotechnology research is providing new applications for nutraceuticals and functional foods in health and wellness platforms. Over the last few decades, nutraceuticals have filled the nutrient gap for consumer health but the level of science and discovery has been limited. "The needs of today's consumers are multidimensional and they are seeking optimal health, not medication," said a leading nutritionist. Advanced biotechnology tools that can provide greater science is now available to an industry that can deliver wellness and health quickly to the consumer.
It has been argued that biotechnology is neither good nor bad, and it has the potential to alleviate or aggravate the impact of agriculture on the environment to improve human and animal nutrition or to pose danger to human or animal health. The challenge is thus to develop, supply, and manage biotechnology for the benefit of humankind and the environment. The solutions proposed to tackle this challenge include:
1) Promotion of research and market development for life sciences and biotechnology applications and the "knowledge-based bioeconomy"
2) Fostering competitiveness, knowledge transfer, and innovation from the labs to industry
3) Encouraging informed societal debates on the benefits and risk of life sciences and biotechnology.
4) Ensuring a sustainable contribution of modern biotechnology to agriculture.
5) Improving the implementation of the legislation and its impact on competitiveness.