Food & Agri-Business Committee: Feeding Asia in the Age of Skepticism Over Science
Asia is a region of vast diversity in terms of geography, agro-climatic zones, crops cultivated, socio-economic growth, and political ideologies etc. With specific reference to agrochemicals and biotechnology, the region provides great opportunity for growth as the region grapples with challenges such as low crop and animal productivity, urbanization, land degradation and also demographic challenges that drive faster changes in food consumption. Overall, since past three decades, the region has witnessed significant progress in terms of lifting hundreds of millions out of abject poverty but it still remains vulnerable to volatility in food prices, climatic vagaries and other shocks such as international trade disruptions.
Given the potential for growth, Asia is home to more than 4 billion people and it is going to outpace all other regions in several aspects. Specifically in the food & agriculture sector, the region is undergoing tectonic changes in the policy and regulatory framework and there are opportunities to steer the agenda towards science-based, unbiased and holistic policy making.
The technological innovations of plant science continue to enable smallholder farmer in Asia and around the world to grow more safe and nutritious food with fewer resources and less impact on the world around us.
Dr. Siang Hee TAN is the Executive Director of CropLife Asia, the Asian operation of an international trade association with a presence in 91 countries. He is responsible for directing regulatory, crop protection, seeds, intellectual property, biotechnology as well as communications and outreach programs in 15 Asian countries. His other professional experience includes establishing the University of Putra Malaysia (UPM) Genome Centre, and management of two startup ventures developing bioinformatics software and prenatal genetic testing. He was also responsible for establishing the biotechnology section for the Sime Darby Technology Centre; project managing the Northern Corridor Economic Region Project (NCER) on large-scale farming; and developing an agri-entrepreneur program.