REGARDING your article "Wish you were here without GM foods", (April 9), we need to double crop production by 2050 to feed nine billion people a more varied diet and on present trends a net global food deficit is projected for as early as 2020. There is little additional land with the right soil and climate for major grain production and prime land is being lost to urbanisation.

Yield gains from conventional breeding are not keeping pace and for some crops the well of readily accessible useful genetic variation is drying up.

Therefore, increased productivity will require new farming and breeding technologies. Genetically modified food (GM) is one of the sharpest new tools available and there is some urgency because 17 years is a short window for scientific advance and technological application.

Beyond global food security, GM can play a major role in developing new crop varieties requiring less chemical input and to grow food with improved nutritional and health-promoting qualities.

Professor Chris Lamb

Director, John Innes Centre,

Norwich Research Park,



Updated: 10:13 Wednesday, April 16, 2003