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Abstract

Potential candidates of biotechnology such as poverty alleviation and enhanced food security and nutrition in developing countries have received little attention. Serageldin (1999) is of the opinion that biotechnology can contribute to future food security if it benefits sustainable small-farm agriculture but important questions relating to ethics, intellectual property rights, and biosafety must be addressed. In the Caribbean where new agricultural land is scarce, farmers must make gains in productivity if they are to compete in the global marketplace. While it is recognised that the region's agriculture must encompass a broader vision that includes effective policies; genetic improvement; sustainable production systems that incorporate integrated pest management and sound natural resource management; synergies among livestock, agroforestry, cropping systems and aquaculture; attention to post harvest technologies and quality assurance systems; and marketing and agribusiness. While current application of modern biotechnology is focused on industrial country agriculture, biotechnology holds great promise as a paradigm shift necessary for solving the problems of food security, poverty alleviation and environmental protection of the region. Collaboration among public and private sectors, NGOs, universities and other institutions, and other R&D stakeholders will be necessary to enable the complexity of issues surrounding biotechnology to be adequately addressed. The Caribbean cannot and must not stand idly by while others make use of the gene revolution and place the region at a disadvantage in its efforts to compete in the global marketplace.

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