Global sustainable agriculture company Monsanto, in coordination with the US-ASEAN Business Council, recently spearheaded a forum themed “Maximizing Nutrition with Modern Agriculture” at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City.

Dr. Milton Stokes, director of Global Health and Nutrition Outreach for Monsanto, discussed innovative means of safe and sustainable food production through traditional breeding, biotechnology, crop protection, and precision agriculture.

Through breeding, new tomato hybrids have more desirable characteristics such as better keeping quality, better resistance to diseases, and other such traits.

Based on the company’s extensive Centers on breeding research, Stokes explained that taste, texture, and convenience all contribute to an increasing vegetable consumption. “Traits of a wild tomato are bred into commercial varieties for sweeter taste and more appealing color; extended quality watermelons lose much less juice (and are) less messy when sliced, eaten, and stored; mini bell peppers present better value at an affordable price point.”

“These agricultural innovations present safe and nutritious alternatives to our conventional crops for our family’s consumption,” he added.

The World Health Organization in the past decade has noted that, “GM foods currently available in the international market have passed risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.”

Mini bell peppers are more affordable.

Moreover, Stokes relates massive increased crop production with modern agriculture. Between 1996 and 2011, crop biotechnology was responsible for an additional 15.9 million metric tons of cotton lint, 19.5 million metric tons of corn, and 110.2 million metric tons of soybeans. The forum also highlighted the environmental and economic benefits of modern agriculture.

“In the absence of biotechnology, it would take an additional 123 million hectares to produce the same amount of food produced in 2012, while preventing an estimated 26.7 billion kg of CO2 emissions, equivalent to removing 11.8 million cars from the road for a year,” Stokes revealed.

He stated that Filipino farmers experienced increased incomes, expressing that farmers benefited from Php46.44 million in net income from Bt corn farming since cost of production had been reduced by R0.23 per kilogram.

Mini bell peppers are more affordable.

Stokes concluded the forum with the company’s commitment to pursuing smarter ways to nourish the world, helping Filipino farmers produce more with fewer resources.

Monsanto, with the help of its partners and continued investment in research and new technologies, are making steady progress on its sustainability goals.

This appeared without a byline in Agriculture Monthly’s April 2015 issue.