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World Health Organization

It is common knowledge that since the ancient times agriculture has always had a fundamental value for the welfare of all the nations. However, in our contemporary world, being post-industrialized, the pace of advancement is increasing dramatically, and therefore it is the scientific progress which determines a sustainable development. And today agriculture plays a different but not less important role: it is a highly debatable quality-of-life issue as it liaises with the health of the world population. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) have made fighting micronutrient deficiencies, known as hidden hunger, a high priority. The current goal of the World Health Organization which was stated in the WHO Bulletin from December, 2006 is "healthier people and healthier agriculture". Biofortification has become the latest breakthrough in the fighting against malnutrition in the developing and undeveloped countries. It is a matter of fact that the work of HarvestPlus organization throughout the world has already brought some desirable progress: an excellent example of biotechnology application is the implementation of ‘golden rice’ with adequate levels of a provitamin A and β-carotene. The Africa Harvest and the BioCassava Plus programs, respectively, are developing sorghum and cassava with improved nutritional quality in Kenya and Tanzania. And these programs are a great success. However, the delegation of Guinea-Bissau understands the challenges which the governments and non-governmental organizations may face in terms of biofortification. And, therefore, Guinea-Bissau calls all the States to collaborate in addressing such issues as, firstly, the creation of an international regulatory system and standards for the use of this technology as the absence of it precludes nutrition interventions from being implemented. Secondly, the possibility of providing an efficient seed and rural extension system for multiplication and dissemination of new varieties of biofortified crops is also important. Thirdly, our delegation considers the experiments and trials on this technology very pertinent. Moreover, there arises the matter of consumer acceptance in case of altering some of the sensory characteristics of crops (e.g. orange color due to β-carotene), especially in the undeveloped countries.


The delegation of Guinea-Bissau is fierce in its position: still there is no evidence of any risk factors that could outweigh the potential benefits of the implementation of biofortification. Under the HarvestPlus cassava with provitamin A, firstly released in D.R. Congo and Nigeria, is now going to be spilled over to many African countries including Guinea-Bissau. Such programs need public attention and support as they are the basis for the world biofortification program development. The lack of vitamins and nutrition lead to such common but hard-to-pin-down symptoms as fatigue, irritability, nervousness, emotional depression, allergies, and insomnia even among those who have an access to a wide variety of foods. But in the poorest world countries, such as Guinea-Bissau, in spite of the developing agricultural policies, lower cognitive ability, lower work productivity, impaired growth and reproduction, higher morbidity and mortality (which can be reduced by 23% just with vitamin A supplementation) are the deplorable impacts of malnutrition and food insecurity. The communities cannot begin to work on development issues if their primary need for food is not met. According to the results of a national food security assessment conducted in September 2013 by World Food Program only 7% of the population in Guinea-Bissau is food-secure. As a consequence, nearly 15,000 children suffer from acute malnutrition across the country, 2,000 have become blind due to the lack of vitamin A. This is far from reaching the envisaged Millenium Development Goals. Moreover, people become susceptible to disease which, for instance, had a negative influence on the Ebola spread across the countryin 2014.


The possible solutions to these problems may include development of eLENA forum (which is the only existing regulatory online source of getting information and developing policy guidelines for the countries), e.g. creating a special narrowly-specializing department which will concentrate on biofortification, reconsidering its nutrition intervention's priority (as it is put the label of the "Category 3 intervention" now which hinders its implementation and development) and provide close links with all the organizations which conduct experiments and trials or scientific researches in the field (they should be focused on the questions of determining the effect of infections on efficacy of biofortified crops, identifying adequate biomarkers on micronutrient status etc.) Furthermore, it is important to sponsor research and development of the program. Our delegation suggests urging the governments to promote charity among the population by means of mass media propaganda and join the Asian Development Bank, Austrian Ministry of Finance, US Agency for International Development and others in supporting HarvestPlus organization in its efforts to struggle against malnutrition. And also speaking about consumer acceptance, it is important to ensure an aware and educated in the field society. In order to achieve such results, our delegation claims establishing of special committees which will explain the need of new products and promote their utilization along with teaching basic rules of healthcare and hygiene in the undeveloped countries to be very effective. Our delegation expresses confidence in the world community support and hopes for a constructive dialogue during the conference.

Date: 2015-04-20; view: 990

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