International CCS Knowledge Centre appoints James Millar President and CEO

Regina, SK, May 02, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The International CCS Knowledge Centre has appointed James Millar to the position of President and Chief Executive Officer, effective May 24. A highly respected executive with deep experience in energy, industrial infrastructure, and public policy, Millar arrives at a critical inflection point in the development of carbon capture and storage technology in Canada and around the world.

"We need deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions if we're going to meet our ambitious climate goals over the next few decades," Millar says. "Many global organizations including the International Energy Agency and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agree that without CCS the world cannot meet its emission reduction targets. I'm excited to lead this organization at a time when widespread investment and interest in CCS is scaling up."

A native of Calgary, James Millar began his career in Saskatchewan, where he was a senior advisor in government before being appointed Director of Public Affairs for the Calgary Health Region. He transitioned to the energy industry, providing public affairs direction to TransCanada Corporation (now TC Energy) during planning and development of major infrastructure projects including the Keystone XL and Energy East pipelines. Most recently, he managed public affairs for Pieridae Energy, working on a $10–billion LNG project off Canada's east coast, and Pieridae's planned carbon capture initiative, to sequester three million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

With a mandate to advance the global understanding and deployment of large–scale CCS to reduce global GHG emissions, the International CCS Knowledge Centre provides the know–how to implement large–scale CCS projects as well as CCS optimization through the base learnings from both the fully–integrated Boundary Dam 3 CCS Facility and the comprehensive second–generation CCS study, known as the Shand CCS Feasibility Study. Our expertise crosses industries including cement, potash and natural gas combustion. Operating since 2016 under the direction of an independent board, the Knowledge Centre was established by BHP and SaskPower. With growing private and public investment in CCS, the Knowledge Centre is uniquely positioned to advise industries in Canada and around the world in planning, developing and managing this important technology. For more info: https://ccsknowledge.com/


English and Dutch Caribbean Rally Around UN Sustainable Development Framework

Castle, Comfort Dominica. Dominica is the latest Caribbean country to sign on to the UN Multi-Country Sustainable Development Framework, to accelerate progress with sustainable development goals and recover from COVID-19 Credit: Alison Kentish/IPS

By Alison Kentish
DOMINICA, May 2 2022 – When Dominica signed on to the United Nations Multicountry Sustainable Development Framework for the English and Dutch Speaking Caribbean (MSDCF) in March, the country joined others like Saint Lucia, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Aruba as part of a 5-year framework to plan and implement UN development initiatives.

Support for the 2022 to 2026 agreement has continued to grow since December 2021, when Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and Guyana signed the cooperation framework, which hopes to help nations achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

For countries in the Caribbean, one of the most vulnerable regions globally, the framework is a critical instrument, based on building climate and economic resilience, the promotion of equality, and enhancing peace, safety, and the rule of law.

It is also crucial for a country like Dominica which in 2017 lost US$1.4 billion, or 226% of its GDP to Hurricane Maria. The small island state has been on a mission to build resilience across sectors through initiatives like its Climate Resilience and Recovery Plan, while grappling with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.

The country’s representatives have used platforms like the United Nations General Assembly to urge development partners to consider the unique vulnerabilities of small island states in their support packages.

The country’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says the UN framework will help Caribbean governments to implement programs that strengthen health, education, and social services while contributing to economic growth.

“We are operating in a tumultuous period defined by huge environmental and climate-related challenges, conflict, and economic uncertainty. The agreement proposes to help our small territories confront the trials of our time and achieve economic resilience and prosperity. It is cause for optimism as we devise ways to tackle our common problems together,” he said.

The agreement builds on a 2017-2022 framework which was signed by 18 Caribbean countries. Initiatives under that framework focused on areas such as building Caribbean resilience and the implementation of low-emission, climate-resilient technology in agriculture.

UN officials say that the new agreement, referred to as ‘the second-generation framework,’ considers lessons learned. Developed during the pandemic, it also acknowledges that COVID-19 has compounded structural vulnerabilities for Caribbean countries, which must now ‘build back better.’

“This new agreement opens a new era of cooperation to drive collaboration and mutual commitment for the people of Dominica,” UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Didier Trebucq said at the Dominica signing.

For months, leaders across the Caribbean have been speaking of being at risk of not meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, as they redirect scarce resources to cope with the protracted pandemic.

According to preliminary data from the UN, Goals 1 to 6, known as the ‘people-centered goals,’ have been severely impacted by COVID-19.

The Prime Minister of Barbados, the first leader in the Barbados and OECS grouping to sign the MSDCF, said the pandemic slowed progress towards meeting SDG targets.

“We’re going to have problems in the battle with poverty, we’re going to have problems in making sure that people don’t go hungry, we’re going to have problems in making sure that people have access to good health and well-being, as we know, is already happening in the pandemic. We’re going to have problems in delivering quality education and who have been the greatest victims of this pandemic if not our children across the world, many of who have been denied access to education because they don’t have access to things like electricity and online tools in order to be able to receive it,” Prime Minister Mia Mottley said, referencing Goals 1 to 4.

She said Goal 5 and 6 – Gender Equality and Clean Water and Sanitation are also at risk, noting that women have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, while countries like Barbados continue to be concerned with access to groundwater in the face of the climate crisis.

The MSDCF was developed by the six UN Country Teams, after rounds of consultation with government agencies, the private sector, development partners, and civil society organizations.

It will function at two levels; regionally by adopting joint approaches to common challenges and nationally to tackle country and territory-specific issues and vulnerabilities while helping governments to prepare for future external shocks.

According to the MSDCF, the vision is for the region to become more resilient, “possess greater capacity to achieve all the SDGs, and become a place where people choose to live and can reach their full potential.”

It promises to provide more effective support to signatory countries, through streamlined use of UN resources and in keeping with the goals of the recently approved UN Development system reform.

It hopes to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs and facilitate faster recovery from the socio-economic and health impact of COVID-19, with one regional voice on a shared development path.

IPS UN Bureau Report

 


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New Tactical Nuclear Weapons? Just Say No

A Tomahawk cruise missile launches from the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) during a live-fire exercise, during Valiant Shield 2018 in the Philippine Sea September 18, 2018. Credit: U.S. Navy

By Daryl G. Kimball
WASHINGTON DC, May 2 2022 – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal war on Ukraine, along with his implied threats of nuclear weapons use against any who would interfere, has raised the specter of nuclear conflict.

Last month, CIA Director William Burns said that although there is no sign that Russia is preparing to do so, “none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons.”

As the war drags on, it is vital that Russian, NATO, and U.S. leaders maintain lines of communication to prevent direct conflict and avoid rhetoric and actions that increase the risk of nuclear escalation.

Provocations could include deploying tactical nuclear weapons or developing new types of nuclear weapons designed for fighting and “winning” a regional nuclear war.

For these and other reasons, U.S. President Joe Biden was smart to announce in March that he will cancel a proposal by the Trump administration for a new nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM), a weapon last deployed in 1991.

Before President Donald Trump, two Democratic and two Republican administrations had agreed that nuclear-armed cruise missiles on Navy ships were redundant and destabilizing and detract from higher-priority conventional missions.

Moreover, re-nuclearizing the fleet would create serious operational burdens. In 2019, Biden called this weapon a “bad idea” and said there is no need for new nuclear weapons. He was right then and is right to cancel the system now.

Nevertheless, some in Congress are pushing to restore funding for a nuclear SLCM to fill what they say is a “deterrence gap” against Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons arsenal and to provide a future president with “more credible” nuclear options in a future war with Russia in Europe or with China over Taiwan. A fight over the project, which would cost at least $9 billion through the end of the decade, is all but certain.

The arguments for reviving the nuclear SLCM program are as flimsy as they are dangerous. Serious policymakers all agree that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. But deploying nuclear-armed cruise missiles at sea would undoubtedly increase the possibility of nuclear war through miscalculation.

By deploying both conventional and nuclear-armed cruise missiles at sea, any launch of a conventional cruise missile inherently would send a nuclear signal and increase the potential for unintended nuclear use in a conflict with a nuclear-armed adversary because the adversary would have no way of knowing if the missile was nuclear or conventional.

Furthermore, even if Russia’s stockpile of 1,000 to 2,000 short-range nuclear warheads is larger in number than the U.S. stockpile of 320, there is no meaningful gap in capabilities. Superficial numerical comparisons ignore the fact that both sides already possess excess tactical nuclear destructive capacity, including multiple options for air and missile delivery of lower-yield nuclear warheads.

Both also store their tactical warheads separately from the delivery systems, meaning preparations for potential use would be detectable in advance.

If one president authorized the use of these weapons under “extreme” circumstances in a conventional war, as the policies of both countries allow, neither side would need or want to use more than a handful of these highly destructive weapons.

Although tactical nuclear bombs may produce relatively smaller explosive yields, from less than 1 kiloton TNT equivalent to 20 kilotons or more, their blast, heat, and radiation effects would be unlike anything seen in warfare since the 21-kiloton-yield atomic bomb that destroyed Nagasaki.

Proponents of the nuclear SLCM claim that if Putin used a tactical nuclear weapon to try to gain a military advantage or simply to intimidate, the U.S. president must have additional options to strike back with tactical nuclear weapons. They further argue that he should strike back even if that results in nuclear devastation within NATO and Russian territory.

Theories that nuclear war can be “limited” are extremely dangerous and ignore the unimaginable human suffering nuclear detonations would produce. In practice, once nuclear weapons are used by nuclear-armed adversaries, there is no guarantee the conflict would not quickly escalate to a catastrophic exchange involving the thousands of long-range strategic nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Russian arsenals.

As Gen. John Hyten, head of U.S. Strategic Command, said in 2018 after the annual Global Thunder wargame, “It ends bad. And the bad, meaning, it ends with global nuclear war.” As the supercomputer in the 1983 movie War Games ultimately calculated, “The only winning move is not to play.”

Adding a new type of tactical nuclear weapon to the U.S. arsenal will not enhance deterrence so much as it would increase the risk of nuclear war, mimic irresponsible Russian nuclear signaling, and prompt Russia and China to build their own sea- or land-based nuclear cruise missile systems. Biden made the right decision to cancel Trump’s proposed nuclear SLCM, and now Congress needs to back the president up.

The Arms Control Association (ACA), founded in 1971, is a national nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies. Through public education and media programs and its flagship journal, Arms Control Today, the ACA provides policymakers, the press, and the interested public with authoritative information, analysis, and commentary on arms control proposals, negotiations and agreements, and related national security issues.

IPS UN Bureau

 


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Excerpt:

The writer is Executive Director, Arms Control Association, Washington DC.

Politics in Pakistan: The Captain’s Crisis!

By Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury
SINGAPORE, May 2 2022 (IPS-Partners)

 

 

“O, Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring….”
Walt Whitman

These days there is nary a dull moment in Pakistani politics. It is a cauldron where the mix from the globe, the region and the country boil in a deadly blend. Any unwanted spillage could do much harm at both home and abroad. For one thing it is a very large country with a population of over 220 million, the world’s fifth largest. For another it is one that hosts over a hundred nuclear war heads with potentials for horrendous destruction. Also, apart from these, importantly, it is a Muslim -majority polity and a practising democracy where stability or the lack of it would have ramifications for many societies of comparable milieu in the region, and beyond.

Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury

Some weeks ago, its Prime Minister, the cricketing-star turned politician Imran Khan, captured media headlines around the world. His adoring supporters, millions of them, called him their “Kaptan“ or Captain, as if the nation was a cricket team that Khan skippered. If glory gives herself to only those who dream of her, Khan possessed her and rose to the pinnacle of power in his own adoring nation. But then, lady luck seemed to let go of him. His enemies combined and successfully brought him down, and his party the Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaaf (PTI) down from government in a startlingly nerve-wrenching and nail-biting series of parliamentary manoeuvres in a ‘no-trust’ motion by only two votes, thus engulfing Khan in his toughest political crisis.

The opposition comprised three major parties the largely Sindh- based Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) led by former President Asif Zardari and his son Bilawal Bhutto, the largely Punjab-based Pakistan Muslim League (N) led by Shahbaz Sharif, younger brother of ex-Premier Nawaz Sharif, the party supremo residing in London and technically a fugitive from law, and the largely Khyber Pakhtunkhwa based Jamiat-e Ulema led by Mowlana Fazlur Rahman, a worldly cleric. Ideologically and personally, they were strange bedfellows, evidently brought together only for the purpose of toppling Khan! Immediately afterwards for a while it seemed they would fragment again, bickering over the pickings of gains, mainly distribution of ministerial positions. But wiser counsels prevailed, and they succeeded in papering over their differences, at least for now!

Khan initially demurred on resignation, and instead proposed dissolution of Parliament by the President and elections in three months’ time. But his decisions were reversed by the Supreme Court and he was narrowly voted out of office in Parliament, nudged it now seems, by what in Pakistan is called the ‘establishment , another name for the military. The army is currently led by General Qamar Bajwa, who sought to distance itself from Khan’s anti-American rhetoric obviously due to the Army’s strategic dependence on America. Khan, culturally more westernized than most Pakistanis, was trenchantly critical of the perceived ‘interference’ pf the US in Pakistan’s domestic affairs. He attributed his removal to a “foreign” “conspiracy supposedly hatched abroad and revealed in a cypher despatch from Pakistani Ambassador to Washington.

Obviously not one to mince his words Khan called the new cabinet a “bunch of thieves”, claiming vindication in the fact that nearly two-thirds were out on bail from charges of corruption, a malady wrecking the society like malignant cancer! He accused them of “Chhanga Manga politics” (in 1990 Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim league forcibly confined their legislators in a forest rest house at a place called “Chhanga Manga” near Lahore, in other words “roped in their horses and stabled them” till they could be let out for a parliamentary voting. Khan addressed massive rallies, or ‘Jalsas’ as they are called in Pakistan, in Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in Karachi in Sindh and in Lahore in Punjab. In each of these rallies, hundreds of thousands gathered to chant his name, wave his banners, and cheer him on! In each he projected his PTI Party as an all-Pakistan organization without the provincial bias that mark the others. In each he asked if the new government was acceptable and in each the crowd roared back a resounding negative response! He frequently cited the historic example of Mir Jafar the army general who betrayed the last Muslim Nawab of Bengal Sirajuddoula to the English ion 1776 as the supreme act of treachery, which some could have related to his perception of the “establishment’s” perfidy! In all his rallies, he lustily asked of the crowds: “‘Imported hakumat’ manzoor hai”? (Is the imported government acceptable? Deafeningly, the crowds roared back: “Naa manzoor! Naa manzoor!” (Not acceptable! Not acceptable!)

The army was now caught between a rock and a hard place. While at a stated level the army claims to be apolitical, it has always been the most significant political component of the community. A very well -regarded strategic scholar and former Chief of army Staff General Jehangir Karamat has argued, with that the army in Pakistan is a mirror image of the society. There is logic in that claim in that, unlike the leadership of political parties, the army sociologically comprises non-feudal professionals. It includes some of the best engineers and doctors, disciplined, dedicated and representative of the urges of rural Pakistan. The strong military tradition, particularly in Punjab and the old North- West Frontiers, date back to the British Raj, and is more pronounced than anywhere in the South Asian subcontinent. Unsurprisingly, realpolitik analysts acknowledge its role in the nation’s body politic.

However, as a political entity, the army has evolved. It no longer, both by choice and capacity, seeks to control the government machinery directly, as it did under such military leaders like Generals Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia ul Huq and Pervez Musharraf. Instead, they work to exert influence covertly from behind the scenes under the cognomen of the ‘establishment’, or sometimes also overtly through such players as the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (DGFI), an office created by the British generals immediately after Partition, liaising directly with the Prime Minister, certainly more active and powerful now than then. The army’s challenge is that it needs to function as a political influencer without its participation in such political processes as elections. Because its power is sourced in public support and it cannot afford to be unpopular, it needs to pick and choose its allies in civilian politics with utmost circumspection. If for nothing else, it is for the fact that tacit public acquiescence is politically necessary to secure its large budgetary requirements.

Indeed, it was the Army which was said to help ease in Khan in 2018. But Khan, given his personality and a mind of his own, chose to strike-out on his own, which miffed the generals who may have eventually, with a nudge and a wink at least, helped to bring about his fall. But truth be told, the army quickly deduced unnatural partners in their new political masters, given, among other things, the latter’s perceived laxity about financial ethics. A change of heart was therefore not much beyond the rim of the saucer. But it did not depend on the army alone. For instance, the army would prefer Khan to rein- in his anti-western rhetoric. That may be contrary to Khan’s personal predilections, more so now because that anti-western stance in Pakistan has an electoral dividend, though at a political and economic cost. Even the mercurial Khan would probably judge that balancing would be key.

When after his triumphant ‘jalsas’, Khan, like Achilles in the Iliad, still smarting from his losses, retired to his tent, or rather his home at Bani Gala near Pindi for a brief hiatus before his next move, Bajwa had a huddle with his senior but retired peers in Lahore. Perhaps as an upshot the general declared that he would neither seek nor accept an extension of service when his retirement is due come November. Thereafter the army, albeit in a small way, sought to influence some key new appointments which were against the grain of its perceived interests or at any event, tastes. Also, with the contents of the dreaded “Exit Control List”, a key political tool in Pakistan; but, in both cases, not necessarily with absolute success vis-a-vis the current government, which would have exacerbated their peeve. Still, it’s too early to say if Khan and the army can hug and make up before the next general election.

And it is indeed on the next election that Khan is laser focused. He wants it now. He has directed all senior PTI leaders to spread out throughout the country to muster political support. As his next move, he has declared that unless a date for the election is announced in four weeks’ time, he will organize a ‘Tsunami’ march to the capital Islamabad with such a massive crowd drawn from all over the country as never seen before. He has urged all Pakistanis, irrespective of political affiliations, to join. He further threatened that the gathering will offer a ‘dharna’ (‘sit-in’) to continue till such time the election schedule is announced, with a change in the Election Commission leadership. The current government is obviously taking it seriously as authorities have been seen collecting for possible use shipping ‘containers’, a favoured item in Pakistan for its alternative use in creating roadblocks, this time for in-coming demonstrators.

One evidence of a change of wind in national politics, since Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif assumed office, could be the recent ruling of the Courts, a fair bellwether in this regard, to widen the catchment area for investigation into the ‘foreign funds case’ to include other parties besides the PTI. Also, the Lahore High Court has just turned down a prayer from Maryam Sharif, one of the most powerful leaders of the ruling Coalition parties, for the return of her passport legally impounded to enable her to accompany the Prime Minister on a trip to Saudi Arabia. So, what implications will any change in the position of the ‘wider establishment ‘ (the military plus the Courts) have for the future of Pakistan’s turbulent politics?

The answer, as with many critical queries that come to our minds may also just be, as the Bob Dylan song famously states, “‘blowin’ in the wind!”

This story was originally published by Dhaka Courier.

Bringing Seeds of Hope to Farmers

By Paul Teng and Genevieve Donnellon-May
SINGAPORE, May 2 2022 – 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.

Paul Teng

The COVID pandemic and, more recently, the Ukraine-Russia war have significantly disrupted food production and supply chains for food and farm inputs. Fears are growing about reduced crop planting by farmers in developing countries and reduced yields due to the lesser use of high-priced fertilizers. Apart from fertilizers, supply chain disruptions affect all inputs needed for farming, including seeds. The seed is the first link in the food chain. The availability and access to seeds are essential to farmers, particularly in developing countries or areas affected by droughts and other disasters, giving rise to the concept of “seed security, which the UN FAO defines as the “ready access by rural households, particularly farmers and farming communities, to adequate quantities of quality seed and planting materials of crop varieties, adapted to their agro-ecological conditions and socioeconomic needs, at planting time, under normal and abnormal weather conditions.” In many developing countries, quality seed is commonly produced by companies operating under public scrutiny.

The importance of having reliable supplies of improved seeds for farmers has been particularly highlighted in the world’s most populous country, China, where seeds are high on the policy agenda.

In early April 2022, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for working toward food self-sufficiency and developing the country’s seed industry during a visit to a seed laboratory in Hainan Province, southern China. He noted that China’s food security could only be safeguarded when seed resources are firmly held in its own hands. President Xi’s comments come at a time when many countries aim to increase their self-production of food in anticipation of disruptions in supply chains such as those caused by the Ukraine-Russia crisis and the COVID pandemic.

Genevieve Donnellon-May

President Xi’s comments fit in the broader context of seed and food, issues that will only continue to grow in importance. They come at a time when there is rising food insecurity worldwide and a looming global food crisis brought on by the Ukraine-Russia War, a worsening geopolitical environment and growing vulnerability of the global food supply chains due to accelerated climate change impacts and Covid-19-related disruptions.

All the above background factors have led China and India to make important moves to tap a proven tool for developing new crop varieties, namely biotechnology.

In April 2022, China’s agriculture ministry announced plans for the first time after many years of deliberations to approve two new genetically modified corn varieties developed by the Syngenta Group. Earlier, In January 2022, China published new guidelines for the approval of gene-edited plants, paving the way for faster improvements to important food security crops. And this came amid a raft of measures to overhaul China’s seed industry, seen as a weak link in efforts to ensure it can feed the world’s biggest population. China’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Tang Renjian, had likened seeds to the “computer chips” of agriculture.

In an unrelated parallel development, India approved a key change in rules at the end of March 2022 to allow genome-edited plants or organisms without any “foreign” genes to be subjected to a different regulatory process than the one applied to genetically engineered products. As in China, this is anticipated to lead to faster development of new crop varieties that can meet the challenges of climate change and higher yields.

However, not all interested parties support the use of biotechnology to develop new seeds or patenting new crop varieties. Although the evidence is strong that multinational and domestic seed companies have played a major role in lifting crop production through their improved seeds, this has also led to concerns about the control that the private sector may have over this important input for food production. And related to this issue of control of seeds is the patenting of new seeds.

There has been a rise in ‘seed activism‘ and interest in seed sovereignty as part of the pushback against the modern agricultural system that is supported by patented seeds such as hybrids. This pushback has been helmed by groups which exploit the fear (often speculative) that by having control over seeds, a handful of multinational companies, rather than farmers or countries, have control over the global food supply. This omits the reality that farmers have the right to choose whatever seeds to plant and even keep their own seeds if desired. These groups have also failed to recognize that investments to innovate and produce new seeds would not have been possible without adequate protection of seeds as intellectual property. Countries like China and India realise the importance of promoting innovations in the seed industry.

China, in particular, has announced that it aims to revitalize the seed sector, encourage germplasm collection, and strengthen intellectual property protection in the sector. In China, views on the importance of seeds in food security are reflected in various domestic policies such as in 2022’s “No 1 Central Policy Document”, the country’s agricultural blueprint. A top policy priority is the development of the seed industry in China.

The issues of seed sovereignty based on farmer-saved seed, when balanced against the track record of improved seeds from companies which give high yields, are complex. But in the final analysis, farmers will choose the seeds that give them the most assured yields under risky conditions, even if they have to pay for such seeds. This has been the case with almost all the developed and developing countries with food surpluses for export, such as the U.S.A., Canada, Brazil and Argentina. And consumers, as well as food importers are those who benefit by there being more food at affordable prices.

The first “Green Revolution” in Asia which took off in the 1970s was based on improved seeds of wheat and rice, bred using technologies which were novel at that time. However, towards the latter part of the last millennium, the need for more novel technologies to improve crops became obvious as yield gains were stagnating in many crops. The challenges facing all smallholder farmers arising from changes in climate, pests and natural resource depletion are becoming more intense and frequent. And unless new seeds are developed and made available to farmers in shorter timeframes, it is the consuming public that will suffer the consequences of reduced, unreliable food supply and higher prices.

The conundrum is how to balance local ownership of seed sources which are commonly unimproved and low-yielding with improved high-yielding seeds developed by seed companies (either domestic or multinational) using modern science. Ultimately, smallholder farmers worldwide deserve new “seeds of hope”.

Paul Teng is Adjunct Senior Fellow, Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies at Nanyang Technological University Singapore. He has worked in the Asia Pacific region on agri-food issues for over thirty years, with international organizations, academia and the private sector.

Genevieve Donnellon-May is a master’s student in Water Science, Policy and Management at the University of Oxford. Genevieve’s research interests include China, Africa, transboundary governance, and the food-energy-water nexus.

IPS UN Bureau

 


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