Modern Agricultural Biotechnology and Biosafety


This topic was moderated by Tsung-Yu Tsai, Ph.D. and Yi-Chen Lo, Ph.D. and featured three presentations.


Martina Newell-McGloughlin, Sc.D., Director, UC Systemwide Biotechnology Research and Education Program (UCBREP), USA gave a presentation entitled, “Global Development of Agricultural Biotechnology and the Food Supply.” Dr. Newell-McGloughlin discussed food supply challenges faced by the growing global population, and stated that in the coming decades, food and agricultural production systems must be significantly enhanced in terms of both production and safety in order to respond to a number of transformative global changes in addition to a growing population. She noted that new and innovative techniques will be required to ensure an ample supply of economically and physically accessible nutritious food. Dr. Newell-McGloughlin pointed to the successes of agricultural biotechnology in assisting farmers around the world to improve productivity and grow crops in more ecologically healthy fields while simultaneously allowing more efficient use of resources.


Wayne Parrott, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Crop Science College of Agricultural & Environmental Science, University of Georgia, USA discussed recent developments in the biosafety and food safety of genetically modified (GMO) foods, and noted that safety assessments of GMO foods are predicated on the assumption that safety issues associated with GMO foods will arise from compositional differences between GMO and non-GMO foods, such as the presence of a transgene. Dr. Parrott noted that the safety assessments for these transgenes are well-established and based on strict standards of assessing toxicological, allergenicity, and nutritional equivalency. Dr. Parrott stated that, though unusual, occasionally unintended changes can be caused by the presence of the transgene.


Chih-Li Sun, Ph.D., Director, Biotechnology Industry Study Center, Taiwan Institute of Economics, Taiwan discussed perception and acceptability of genetically modified food to Taiwanese customers. Dr. Sun shared the results of a consumer survey investigating consumer opinion of genetic modification and genetically modified foods, perception of genetically modified foods, and consumers purchasing behavior regarding genetically modified foods. The survey indicated that Taiwanese consumers do not regard genetically modified foods as an important food safety issue, as is the case in Australia and the United States. Dr. Sun also noted that when compared to the research results from 2007, consumer support of genetically modified food has generally decreased, as it has in Europe. More than half of study participants stated that the GMO regulations in Japan and Europe should the basis for GMO regulatory policies developed by the government of Taiwan.