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CropLife International supports Ban Ki-moon’s call to combat desertification and drought

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BRUSSELS – CropLife International welcomes UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s global appeal to help fight drought and desertification and to stem its further expansion with the help of improved science and technology.

Plant science and technologies are an important part of the solution to conserve critical natural resources such as land and water. Plant science offers innovative tools to help the world’s farmers adapt to drier conditions and grow food more sustainably:

• Drought- and flood-tolerant plants are being developed through plant biotechnology, and a regulatory application has been submitted for drought-tolerant corn. Research is also being directed at developing crops that can tolerate increased levels of salinity in the soil.

• CropLife and its members teach Integrated Crop Management techniques to farmers worldwide each year to help them use crop protection products responsibly and in a way that makes optimal use of natural resources. For example, irrigated water use per unit of output has decreased by 20 to 50 percent in four key crops over the past two decades.

• Conservation tillage farming, enabled by herbicide use and biotech crops, reduces soil erosion and helps retain soil moisture, as well as significantly reducing carbon emissions due to fewer passes over the field.

“The plant science industry is committed to addressing key global issues like climate change and food security,” said Howard Minigh, CEO and president of CropLife International. “We have to double, or even triple, food production by 2030 with a fixed amount of land and natural resources. These challenges can only be met if we all work together.”

Agriculture and livestock production account for 70 percent of the fresh water used globally, and global food demand continues to grow. As Ban Ki-moon acknowledged, agricultural research and development needs to be given “adequate and predictable funding” and to be coordinated across sectors, while putting farmers at the center of these solutions.

Desertification, land degradation and drought already affect one-third of the Earth’s surface and have forced an estimated 24 million people to migrate to new areas. The plant science industry can help reduce agriculture’s impact by preserving land, water and biodiversity through reduced losses and greater yields per acre.