Friday, May 31, 2019

ISAAA's New Journey Begins

Message from ISAAA's Global Coordinator, Dr. Mahaletchumy Arujanan

Every time I have problems with the plants in my garden, my thoughts go to all the farmers who struggle in their farms facing a myriad of challenges from climate change, pests, diseases, and chemical hazards to all kinds of other biotic and abiotic stresses. This community relentlessly face these challenges to put food on our table. There is one more huge hurdle - access to modern agri-innovation, especially superior seeds. Farmers are just like us who want the latest technologies to do their job excellently. However, many countries do not have the political will and know-how to embrace modern agri-biotechnology, coupled with activism by critics of this technology.

ISAAA was created almost three decades ago to ensure farmers have access to agri-innovation. ISAAA played a key role in ensuring that biotech crops reach the poorest farmers in the developing world. ISAAA coined the word “biotech crops” as all foods that we eat are “genetically modified” (GM). GM is a legal term and not scientific.

ISAAA is the 1st organization that documented the statistics of biotech crops, their traits, and adoption in our annual publication, “Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops,” which is the most cited literature in modern agri-biotechnology.

The work done by ISAAA translates into increased farmer income which means better socioeconomic benefits for this community; sustainable development where more food could be produced with reduced environmental impact; reduced trade barriers; regulatory reform to ensure increased approval and adoption of biotech crops; and enhanced public understanding of modern agribiotechnology that enables them to make informed decisions.

The impact created by ISAAA in all major continents makes me extremely proud to be at the helm as its Global Coordinator.

We, at ISAAA, are steadfast in modernizing and customizing our approaches, be it our publications, capacity building programs, workshops, or trainings. We feel this is important as we move into the era of new media, emerging gene technologies, and the need to reach out to a wider audience, including the millennials.

My mission is to make ISAAA the “go-to resource center” for information on agri-biotechnology and as a strategic partner to support the adoption of gene technologies in many parts of the world. Our GM Approval Database is a testament for this and our experienced team in all three continents (Asia, Africa, and and the Americas) have been instrumental in changing the landscape to be more receptive towards biotech crops.

We are now putting more efforts to customize and modernize our data. We are eagerly and effectively translating our data into knowledge for ready use by all key stakeholders.

Join our journey as we realize the full potential of modern biotechnology to achieve agricultural sustainability and development.


Dr. Arujanan is also the Executive Director of the Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre (MABIC), the Malaysian node of ISAAA's global network of Biotechnology Information Centres (BICs). MABIC is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the understanding of biotechnology in Malaysia at all levels of society.

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