The director general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has defended his institution’s pro-biotechnology stance in a recent State of Food and Agriculture report, roundly criticised by environmentalists.

Jacques Diouf said although he “always maintained” GMOs are “not needed to achieve the World Food Summit objective” of halving hunger by 2015, they would be needed to cope with a projected world population increase from six to nine billion by 2050, requiring 60% more food.

“We will have to use the scientific tools of molecular biology […] the identification of molecular markers, genetic mapping and gene transfer for more effective plant enhancement, beyond phenotype-based methods.”