Former CIMMYT research director Clive James was in Mexico to give the presentation “Agricultural Biotechnology Facing the Challenges of the Food Crisis and Global Warming” on 8 September 2009 at the Hotel Marquís Reforma in Mexico City. Approximately 80 people attended, including many journalists. Kevin Pixley, associate director of CIMMYT’s Global Maize Program, was invited as a special commentator on the presentation, along with Dr. José Luis Solleira, researcher at Mexico’s Autonomous National University (UNAM). Among other things, James said that transgenic crops were being grown on 125 million hectares in 25 countries during 2008—a nearly 10% increase in area over the previous year.
James is founder and director of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), a not-for-profit international organization that gathers and shares information about the use and impacts of biotechnology in agriculture. In his comments, Pixley pointed out the need for technologies to address climate change and the food needs of a rapidly growing world population. He also showed a figure outlining historic gains in maize yield potential through the use of improved varieties, hybrids, and biotechnology.