THE latest independent report published by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) highlights the importance of new breeding innovations to meet global food security and sustainability needs.
The report outlines the importance of acceleration of new precision breeding innovations such as gene editing.
This is being driven by the need to address the affect of climate change, drought frequency and to reduce food waste and the environmental footprint of production.
At the same time, the world will need to produce 50 per cent more food by 2050 to feed its population with the same or even fewer natural resources.
CropLife Australia chief executive officer Matthew Cossey said Australian farmers would need access to all the best tools to get there.
"The ISAAA report marks 25 years of successful commercial genetically modified (GM) crop cultivation in Australia," Mr Cossey said.
"Innovative, safe and approved technologies such as GM crops have played a significant role in developing Australian farming systems, enabling farmers to be more environmentally sustainable, reduce their carbon footprint and protect the health of their soil."
The report confirms the agriculture environment is changing faster than conventional breeding techniques would allow for the establishment of new varieties.
Mr Cossey said access to new and evolving breeding innovations would be crucial to increasing global food production and meeting sustainability targets for the future.
He said to achieve this we need a modern future-proofed regulatory system.
Most countries who have adopted crop biotechnology innovations early are well equipped to realise the potential of new breeding techniques and capitalise on their benefits.
Mr Cossey said the report explored current examples of where gene editing innovation is being used to develop drought tolerance, disease resistance and increased water efficiency and nutritional value.
All mainland States in Australia have lifted their GM crop moratoriums, allowing farmers to take full advantage of plant breeding innovations, remain globally competitive and more environmentally sustainable.
However, the ISAAA report highlights that as new breeding techniques emerge, their regulation must be fit for purpose, science based, risk proportionate and separates process from the end product.
"This is something that the Commonwealth Department of Health needs to ensure is addressed as part of the modernisation of the gene technology regulatory system," Mr Cossey said.
"Responsive, science-based regulation will ensure Australia isn't held back from reaping the benefits and continuing its position as a world leader in agricultural innovation."
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