8 | IAASTD Synthesis Report

realistically achievable benefits and other sustainable energy options.

The IAASTD definition of biotechnology is based on that in the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Carta­gena Protocol on Biosafety. It is a broad term embracing the manipulation of living organisms and spans the large range of activities from conventional techniques for fermentation and plant and animal breeding to recent innovations in tissue culture, irradiation, genomics and marker-assisted breeding (MAB) or marker assisted selection (MAS) to augment natu­ral breeding. Some of the latest biotechnologies ("modern biotechnology") include the use of in vitro modified DNA or RNA and the fusion of cells from different taxonomic families, techniques that overcome natural physiological re­productive or recombination barriers. Currently the most contentious issue is the use of recombinant DNA techniques to produce transgenes that are inserted into genomes. Even newer techniques of modern biotechnology manipulate her­itable material without changing DNA.
     Biotechnology has always been on the cutting edge of change. Change is rapid, the domains involved are nu­merous, and there is a significant lack of transparent com­munication among actors. Hence assessment of modern biotechnology is lagging behind development; information can be anecdotal and contradictory, and uncertainty on ben­efits and harms is unavoidable. There is a wide range of per­spectives on the environmental, human health and economic risks and benefits of modern biotechnology; many of these risks are as yet unknown.
     Conventional biotechnologies, such as breeding tech­niques, tissue culture, cultivation practices and fermenta­tion are readily accepted and used. Between 1950 and 1980, prior to the development of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), modern varieties of wheat increased yields up to 33% even in the absence of fertilizer. Modern biotechnolo­gies used in containment have been widely adopted; e.g., the industrial enzyme market reached US$1.5 billion in 2000. The application of modern biotechnology outside contain­ment, such as the use of genetically modified (GM) crops is much more contentious. For example, data based on some years and some GM crops indicate highly variable 10-33% yield gains in some places and yield declines in others.
     Higher level drivers of biotechnology R&D, such as IPR frameworks, determine what products become available. While this attracts investment in agriculture, it can also con­centrate ownership of agricultural resources. An emphasis on modern biotechnology without ensuring adequate sup­port for other agricultural research can alter education and training programs and reduce the number of professionals in other core agricultural sciences. This situation can be self-reinforcing since today's students define tomorrow's educa­tional and training opportunities.
     The use of patents for transgenes introduces additional issues. In developing countries especially, instruments such as patents may drive up costs, restrict experimentation by the individual farmer or public researcher while also

4 China and USA.


potentially undermining local practices that enhance food security and economic sustainability. In this regard, there is particular concern about present IPR instruments eventually inhibiting seed-saving, exchange, sale and access to propri­etary materials necessary for the independent research com­munity to conduct analyses and long term experimentation on impacts. Farmers face new liabilities: GM farmers may become liable for adventitious presence if it causes loss of market certification and income to neighboring organic farmers, and conventional farmers may become liable to GM seed producers if transgenes are detected in their crops.
     A problem-oriented approach to biotechnology research and development (R&D) would focus investment on local priorities identified through participatory and transparent processes,  and  favor multifunctional  solutions to  local problems. These processes require new kinds of support for the public to critically engage in assessments of the techni­cal, social, political, cultural, gender, legal, environmental and economic impacts of modern biotechnology. Biotech­nologies should be used to maintain local expertise and germplasm so that the capacity for further research resides within the local community. Such R&D would put much needed emphasis onto participatory breeding projects and agroecology.

Climate change
Climate change, which is taking place at a time of increasing demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel, has the potential to irreversibly damage the natural resource base on which ag­riculture depends. The relationship between climate change and agriculture is a two-way street; agriculture contributes to climate change in several major ways and climate change in general adversely affects agriculture.
     In mid- to high-latitude regions moderate local increases in temperature can have small beneficial impacts on crop yields; in low-latitude regions, such moderate temperature increases are likely to have negative yield effects. Some nega­tive impacts are already visible in many parts of the world; additional warming will have  increasingly negative  im­pacts in all regions. Water scarcity and the timing of water availability will increasingly constrain production. Climate change will require a new look at water storage to cope with the impacts of more and extreme precipitation, higher intra-and inter-seasonal variations, and increased rates of evapo-transpiration in all types of ecosystems. Extreme climate events (floods and droughts) are increasing and expected to amplify in frequency and severity and there are likely to be significant consequences in all regions for food and forestry production and food insecurity. There is a serious potential for future conflicts over habitable land and natural resources such as freshwater. Climate change is affecting the distribu­tion of plants, invasive species, pests and disease vectors and the geographic range and incidence of many human, animal and plant diseases is likely to increase.
     A comprehensive approach with an equitable regulatory framework, differentiated responsibilities and intermediate targets are required to reduce GHG emissions. The earlier and stronger the cuts in emissions, the quicker concentra­tions will approach stabilization. Emission reduction mea­sures clearly are essential because they can have an impact