The Achievements of Science and technology in World. Pasquale Lucio Scandizzo University of Rome Tor Vergata

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1 The Achievements of Science and technology in World Agriculture Pasquale Lucio Scandizzo University of Rome Tor Vergata

2 Narratives and controversies Agricultural research and rethorics Narratives as main instruments of rethorics. A narrative or story is a construct t created in a suitable format (written, spoken, poetry, prose, images, song, theater, or dance) that describes a sequence of fictional or non-fictional events.

3 Discourse as underlying structure Discourse is a complex nexus of sentences, not necessarily, but often of narration type. Discourse is communication of arguments involving real or pretended specialized knowledge. Discourses reflect fundamental views and oppositions in society. Knowledge depends on critical assessment of narratives and discourses.

4 Opposing discourses in research and science in agriculture Conflicting views showing much greater disparities than in other fields Two radically different attitudes toward development: Hard Noses and Bleeding Hearts Perhaps fundamental and unresolved issues

5 Two dominant narratives A story of achievements and hopeful developments with no villain and many heroes (This story is one of uninterrupted scientific progress, continuous increases of yields in the past years ). A story of failures auesand abuses (while the large farmers have benefited from yield increases, small holders have gained only marginal benefits).

6 Two discourses on science and technology on agriculture. Past and present efforts have been very effective (average yearly y rates of return above 40% ) and environmentally virtuous. Science and (bio)-technology have proved to be negative instruments in agriculture, responding to profit rather than needs, irrelevant for developing economics, and threatening to the environment.

7 The radical alternative To conquer the right of all people to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, requires dismantling the control companies like ADM, Cargill, Bunge, Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont exercise over our food systems control that is held in place both by regulations like the renewable fuel standards that force us to consume their products, and the GM technologies that limit our options to one: theirs.

8 Which one of these stories comes closest to the truth? Agriculture is a biological process so technological innovation in agriculture is different from that in other sectors. The 1950s and 1960s showed that genetic improvement technologies such as crop and animal breeds were often location specific and generally did not travel well from the temperate North to the tropical South. (WDR, 2008)

9 The ethical problem progressive commoditization, agricultural products transformed into commercial goods bereft of any sacrality or social and community value, dangerously de-humanizing i agricultural l processes of production, specially when applied to livestock. creation of massively urban biased societies, based on the unsustainable demography of the megalopolis (or the infinite city ).

10 Renewed ethical concerns The increasing i diffusion i of GMOs, depending di on a handful of varieties, concentrated in only three crops ( corn, soybeans and cotton) appears to exaggerate and dramatize the traditional agricultural model: monoculture, the pesticide treadmill, favoring developed countries and large holders. Loss of biodiversity, contamination, displacement of traditional agriculture, dependence on profit making, ethically unresponsive, and perhaps irresponsible, multinationals

11 The economic problem Benefit cost ratios of agricultural l research remain controversial because of the essentially problematic nature of the identification and measurement of benefits and costs Against a strong rhetoric on the success of AgRes, the quantitative evidence is ambiguous. Why concentrate on yield increases?

12 Are yield increasing continuing?

13 Meta-analysis of Estimates of rates of return to research

14 The ecological problem Sustainable and multifunctional agriculture should only be about cheap wholesome food? What about stewardship of the land, preservation of the resource base, the health of farm workers, the preservation of the small biota that are rich in biodiversity and are interspersed with fields, the value of rural community and of the agricultural landscape?

15 Climate Change Is adaptation ti capacity being jeopardized d by the uniform prescriptions of modern technologies, including the ones inherited from the green revolution and from the expanding frontier of agro biotechnologies? Should adaptation be rooted in diversification of local varieties, cultivation practices, competences and resources?

16 Adaptation to climate change Four main groups of adaptation options appear in principle relevant: (i) technology and technological developments, (ii) government programs and insurance, (iii) farm production practices, and (iv) farm financial management. However, increased adaptation may reduce adaptability and, vice versa, increased adaptability may require some sacrifices in terms of short term adaptations.

17 Adaptation and opposed narratives the discourse on adaptation appears in principle p more complex than the stark contrast between conservative and radical positions. Having more options to adapt, in fact, seems to require, at the same time, a reversion to traditional technologies and an appeal to new ones.

18 Combining traditional and new technologies to foster adaptation The traditional technologies should be reinterpreted in the context of a sustainable paradigm that would capitalize on their ecovirtuous features, such as crop diversification, land management and low intensity in cash inputs. The new technologies should be coming from future discoveries, within a model of greening production that would reject the present emphasis on average yield increases, highly vulnerable output and energy intensive inputs.

19 Climate change: a new frontier? The discourse on climate change suggests new boundaries of conceivable knowledge and, as such, should be considered a newly established frontier for scientific development. The underlying narrative in this regard is clear: climate change is the new prevailing force to reckon in the field of agricultural development. It has already with us, so that not only mitigation efforts are necessary, but also adaptation actions are inevitable.

20 Is Research in Agriculture up to the Task? Research in agriculture threatens to fall short from offering new adaptive solutions to climate change, because it has taken an altogether different direction: the pursuit of profit maximizing micro agricultural improvements, within the single integrated agro- industrial enterprise in a context of thoroughly protectable property rights on innovation. A radical change may be needed to proceed from narrowly defined, profit oriented, privately dominated agricultural research to a pursuit of knowledge truly attuned to the planetary adaptation facing humanity and agriculture today.

21 Biotechnology: the main points of the re-assuring narrative ABT has already achieved a significant ifi degree of success, although adoption of transgenics mainly concerns a few crops (cotton, corn and soybeans) and large landholders in developed countries. The demonstrated environmental and health impact is positive, largely because of the reduction in the use of pesticide. However, the need for continuing monitoring of possible negative effects is still high.

22 Biotechnology: the main points of the re-assuring narrative Progress for food crops relevant for the poor is slow and potential problems arising from lack of infrastructure, weak institutions and the preponderance of privately driven research in developing countries may be serious. Nevertheless, the potential of ABT, appears so large that every effort should be made to channel agricultural research in its direction and, at the same time, in the direction of poor consumers and small farmers in the developing world.

23 Is AG R&D sufficient?

24 The Challenge of Subsaharan Africa

25 Are sufficient resources allocated to ag-research? The Consultative ti Group on International ti Agricultural Research, the global leader in agricultural research targeting the needs of the poor, spends about 7 percent of its Budget (about $35 million) on biotechnology, only part of which is for transgenics. This is very small number in comparison with the $1.5 billion spent each year by the four largest private companies.

26 Conclusions Controversy on the future of science in agriculture cannot be dismissed, It touches key points of development policy. A dramatic increase of resources for public research is needed. Much more attention should go to increasing the options of small farmers in the face of deteriorating environment.

27 Conclusions Focus on yield increases may be justified for some countries, but not a major goal everywhere. Improving the quality of the products more important for consumers around the world Risk management and climate change a major challenge for the future.

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