Washington, June 24, 2003
President Bush June 23 urged governments to "end their opposition" to biotechnology in order advance the global fight against hunger.
Addressing the Biotechnology Industrial Organization's (BIO) Annual Convention in Washington, Bush said many European governments have blocked the import of new biotech crops based on "unfounded, unscientific fears."
"Because of these artificial obstacles," he said, "many African nations avoid investing in biotechnology, worried that their products will be shut out of important European markets."
"For the sake of a continent threatened by famine I urge the European governments to end their opposition to biotechnology," added Bush.
"America and other wealthy nations have a special responsibility to combat hunger and disease in desperate lands," said Bush, noting that the United States will provide more than $1 billion in food and aid in the coming year.
While agriculture advances have produced greater crop yields and grown crops with high resistance to drought, pests and disease, Bush said, many of the advantages of biotechnology have not reached developing nations in Africa and nations where they are needed most.
The president called for the U.S. and other nations to share best practices in crop production and use advances in bio-science to help fight global hunger and disease.
President Bush also urged support for a $6 billion initiative called Project BioShield to accelerate development of drugs and vaccines to protect the U.S. population in the event of a chemical or biological weapons attack.
Project BioShield, he said, will lead to safer and more effective vaccines and treatments against agents like smallpox, anthrax, botulinum toxin, e-bola and plague, and also to greater understanding of the workings of other diseases.
"My administration is committed to working with your industry [the biotechnology industry] so that the great powers of biotechnology can serve the true interests of our nation and mankind," he said.