April 23, 2017

24/04/2017: Biotechnology and scientific agricultural progress

by Clifford Spencer, Goodwill Ambassador, NEPAD and Chairman, Milling4Life

In my diplomatic role I have been spending the last few days interviewing senior bio-scientists from developing countries to gain their views and aspirations in their field of study
Clifford Spencer

It has been a fascinating experience and having preconceived ideas shattered barely describes the experience of these detailed conversations!

When discussing milling and grain-associated technologies, as well as developments the area of bioscience is assuming greater importance globally, it helps produce the grains or whichever crop is concerned but it also increasingly involved in the adding of value to waste streams or as they are now called, bi or co products.

The areas I was investigating in my interviews were green biotechnology (agriculture and forestry) and white (industrial) biotechnology, is about the use of living organisms and processes to achieve specific outcomes.

Composting, bread-making, molecular plant breeding and brewing are all biotechnologies whereas the general public often seems to think it is all about this genetic modification of organisms. What really stood out in the interviews were not only the enhanced scientific rate of progress in developing countries but also the very significant pool of home grown scientific talent.

This was accompanied by an immense desire by the interviewees to energise their home countries and social development. This bodes very well for future Milling4Life supported projects, as clearly the necessary homegrown and in-location talent required to give successful outcomes is ready and willing to act.

This is a significantly different position to when I was young and projects in developing countries were often conceived and driven externally, never being adopted into the countries in the hoped for way.

Often these projects were also exploitative and shunned by the local population who were integrated into them, other than possibly as cheap labour or as a means to secure and use an overseas asset.

All this potential bodes very well for milling industries in emerging countries in terms of the large range of indigenous grains available for development.

To date, these crops have benefitted from very little scientific input in terms of breeding effort in comparison to the current crops of soy, wheat or rice.

Also, bi or co product lines and associated processing techniques are areas of potential development for these under-explored crops.

Read the full article HERE.

The Global Miller
This blog is maintained by The Global Miller staff and is supported by the magazine Milling and Grain
which is published by Perendale Publishers Limited.

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