Argentina, with support from IICA, presented details of the bio-digital innovation under way in its agriculture sector at the WTO Public Forum in Geneva
San José, September 28, 2023 (IICA). At the main Public Forum of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Argentina, with the assistance of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), gave a presentation on the impact that bio-digital innovation has had on its agriculture sector, and the importance that the use of such tools has assumed at the global level.
During the event, renowned experts, industry leaders and government officials shared their knowledge and experiences at the intersection of biology and digital technology in agriculture.
The participants included Raquel Chan, a biochemist specializing in plant biotechnology, a member of her country’s National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), and a professor at the Litoral Agrobiotechnology Institute; and Nacira Muñoz, Vice President of the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA).
They were accompanied by Guillermo Salvatierra, a member of the board of directors of Argentina’s National Space Activities Commission, an advisor to his country’s Minister of Science and Technology, and Director of the Specialization in Industry and Space Systems of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Buenos Aires (FI-UBA); and Agustín Torriglia, a member of the board of directors of the Argentine Association of Direct Seeding Producers (AAPRESID).
Other speakers included Ambassador Federico Villegas, Argentina’s Permanent Representative in Geneva; and Gloria Abraham, IICA consultant and international advisor, and Costa Rica’s former Minister of Agriculture and Livestock and former Ambassador to the WTO.
The Public Forum, the WTO’s most important outreach event, provides an opportunity to review the latest developments in global trade and propose ways to improve the multilateral trading system. Every year, it brings together more than 2000 participants from civil society, academia and business, the governments of the 164 member countries, international organizations and the media.
The slogan of this year’s event was It is time for action, a call to deepen innovation based on science, information and knowledge to address two major global challenges: food insecurity and environmental degradation.
At the event, Argentine researchers showed how their country is at the forefront in the implementation of cutting-edge technologies and sustainable agricultural practices to help achieve that goal.
They highlighted how the most recent innovations in precision agriculture, biotechnology and digitalization, as well as the integration of these new tools, have become the key to achieving more efficient and sustainable production.
The forum reiterated the urgent need to reduce trade-distorting agricultural subsidies that not only hinder the development opportunities of countries that produce efficiently ¾Argentina among them¾ but also contribute to global environmental degradation.
Raquel Chan, who was named an “IICA Chair” for her important contributions to the strengthening of national science and technology systems in the region, shared details of her biotech work, developing new plant varieties as a means to adapt to environmental challenges and as a contribution to food security.
Chan is renowned for having spearheaded the development of the HB4 gene, which is found in sunflowers and makes wheat and soybeans drought-tolerant, among her other contributions to global agriculture.
Guillermo Salvatierra, representing the Argentine high-tech company INVAP, highlighted the importance of information and data for the development of new digital applications that facilitate decision-making for agricultural producers.
Muñoz, Vice President of INTA, emphasized the State’s coordinating role in promoting research and development to find new scientific and technological solutions, as well as the dissemination and facilitation of access to technology to the largest possible number of farmers across Argentina.
Agustín Torriglia, from AAPRESID, highlighted the positive impact of good agricultural practices, particularly direct seeding, in the protection and conservation of soils, biodiversity and water, and in the efforts to combat climate change.
Ambassador Federico Villegas reflected on how a developing country like Argentina had been able to create a sophisticated, efficient, sustainable agro-industrial and service network, based on science and technology. He emphasized that the merits of this achievement were even greater considering it had been done without excessive trade-distorting agricultural subsidies, and in a context of growing global protectionism.
He also stressed that the call to achieve environmental sustainability was of such magnitude that it behooved governments to reach an agreement to reduce the billions of dollars spent annually on trade-distorting agricultural subsidies, which also impact the environment negatively.
Gloria Abraham then highlighted Argentina’s leadership role in making substantive contributions to global food security.
The experts present agreed that intersectoral cooperation and collaboration, including the public and private sectors, academia and civil society, had proved to be a crucial factor in the development and transformation of Argentina’s agriculture sector into one of the most efficient, sustainable and competitive in the world.
The discussions also touched on the importance of having a national scientific network to act as a developer and catalyst of technological solutions adapted to the production needs of each national bioregion.
One idea put forward was that, in developing an ecosystem of companies associated with agricultural production, science and technology offer a vector that combines profitability with sustainability, since it helps increase production and productivity, and at the same time lower production costs and protect related natural resources.
The participants also underlined the need to continue and to deepen international cooperation in agriculture, as a mechanism for catalyzing the efforts to find solutions to food insecurity and environmental degradation, particularly in developing countries.
Lastly, the experts agreed on the need for the WTO to deepen the debate on how to reduce trade-distorting domestic support and promote solutions based on scientific and technological knowledge, which would drive sustainable production.
This event provided a unique opportunity to show the world, through the World Trade Organization, how Argentina is leading the way towards more sustainable, innovative agriculture, and how its experiences can be applied across the globe.
Institutional Communication Division.