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CropLife Asia, a non-profit organisation representing the plant science industry, announced that it is taking the opportunity to stress regional partnership and collaboration among all food systems stakeholders in advancing policies that make safe, affordable, and nutritious food more accessible for the masses

CropLife UnSOFI The availability of safe, affordable and nutritious food is dependent on growers' access to crop protection products. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

The company is doing so with the release of the United Nations (UN) 2022 State of Food Security & Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report. As the 2022 SOFI Report details, the challenge of feeding a hungry world is now further exacerbated by climate change, COVID-19 and conflict – with the ongoing war in Ukraine resulting in implications to the global food supply, impacting the state of food security and nutrition for many countries directly and indirectly.

Specifically, the report estimates that between 702 and 828 million people were affected by hunger in 2021. Hunger continues to rise in regions such as Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean with the greatest number of the world’s hungry residing in Asia at 425 million. The prevalence of undernourishment also increased from 9.3 % in 2020 to 9.8 % in 2021. The report also estimates that almost 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 20203 with nearly two billion coming from Asia.

“The latest figures from the 2022 UN SOFI Report are a sobering reminder that far too many here in Asia and around the world face hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity every day,” said Dr Siang Hee Tan, executive director of CropLife Asia. “Food systems stakeholders and all of us have a responsibility to ensure everyone has access to a safe, affordable and nutritious supply of food. CropLife Asia and our members remain deeply committed to this critically important pursuit”.

“Plant science innovations, including crop protection products and plant biotechnology, have an increasingly key role to play in driving food security in Asia and around the globe. Our partnership and work with regional governments to ensure regulatory frameworks are in place to bring these technologies to our farmers is more crucial than ever before,” added Dr Siang.

According to the company,  among the game-changing technologies that can help drive better nutrition, in particular, is ‘plant breeding innovation (PBI). PBI is the term used to describe the constantly evolving ideas and practices that enhance the field of plant breeding. This technology is also one of the shortest and most effective routes to improve global health through better nutrition. Gene editing allows breeders to work within a plant’s own gene pool to try and reach the same endpoint as they would through more traditional breeding methods – but with greater precision and efficiency.

By scaling up proven nutrition interventions such as breeding crops for improved nutritional content, more than one million child deaths could be averted each year. Crops like golden rice enhanced with Vitamin A can prevent millions of children from going blind from a Vitamin A deficiency. Crops that are bred to have improved oil content including Omega-3 fatty acids can have a positive effect and be good for cardio-vascular disease as well.

Additionally, responsible use of crop protection products helps farmers grow more food on less land by protecting crops from losses due to pests, weeds and disease while raising productivity. CropLife opines that the availability of safe, affordable and nutritious food is dependent on growers’ access to crop protection products.