UN Report Says GM Crops Necessary to Conserve Water

Published June 1, 2004

A new report released at a United Nations development summit in New York on April 20 warns food production and agriculture are causing the rapid depletion of water resources across the world. The report’s authors advocate the cultivation of drought-resistant and genetically modified crops to combat the crisis.

“Food and agriculture are by far the largest consumers of water. They require 1,000 times more than we use to drink and 100 times more than we use to meet basic personal needs,” cautions the report, titled “Water–More Nutrition Per Drop,” initiated by the Swedish government.

Focusing on the estimated 840 million undernourished people across the world, the report warns that if measures are not taken to increase food production while subsequently using less water, the international community will face great difficulties in meeting the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of undernourished people in the world by 2015.

Agriculture accounts for an alarming 70 to 90 percent of available freshwater supplies in developing countries, according to senior scientist Malin Falkenmark of the Stockholm International Water Institute, which collaborated on the report. Falkenmark adds that astonishingly huge volumes of water are transformed into vapor during food production.

The report explains that with globalization and an increase in purchasing power, consumers are becoming more selective about their food, driving an increasing demand for meat and dairy products that involve water-intensive production procedures.

Stressing that the conservation of water should be a combined global effort, the report advocates the cultivation and export of crops in regions where they can give the best yield with the least amount of water.

Source: Wisconsin Ag Connection, http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com.

For more information …

The “Water–More Nutrition Per Drop” report is available online at http://www.siwi.org/downloads/More_Nutrition_Per_Drop.pdf.