Amidst a backdrop of rising food insecurity worldwide and a global food supply chain crisis, many countries are attempting to increase the level of food self-production. One improved input for farming which is receiving renewed attention is improved seed. The two most populous countries in the world, China and India, have recently made ground-breaking moves to improve their competitive position by developing new seeds which will improve their food production and increase resilience to climate change. So far, in 2022, new regulations on using biotechnology (genetic modification and gene editing
) have been put in place by both countries to ultimately allow smallholder farmers to benefit from these new seeds.
After almost two decades, Golden Rice was approved last week by the Philippines authorities for use as food. This together with the approval of the bioengineered Bt eggplant represents a landmark victory of science over misinformation; it will provide consumers with improved nutrition (Golden Rice) and safer food (Bt eggplant).
In 2020, Southeast Asian countries were already facing varied challenges that affected the region’s food supplies and prices. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic later in the year exacerbated the region’s food insecurity and poverty. Southeast Asian countries need to take a hard look at food security, even as the double challenges — climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic — continue to fester.