Director-General  QU Dongyu
A statement by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu

Transcription of Director-General’s Personal Observations at the Closing of the FAO Global Action for Fall Armyworm Control: Third Steering Committee Meeting

Friday 21 December 2020, 13:00 – 15:00

Virtual meeting

As delivered



You make the Closing Remarks, I just give my personal observations, first.

I appreciate all of you - the Vice-Chairpersons and Members and also Guests to support this Global Action for Fall Armyworm Control.

I am listening because I was a scientist, so I always want to listen to what you are really thinking, from different individuals. I fully agree with you.

I had a talk with Ambassador Kip E. Tom. That is the UN. This is a UNOrganization, you need consensus, but the UN always reaches consensus and then no action. Therefore, we need consensus first. Sometimes you need consensus, but sometimes to build up consensus takes a little time; you are losing the efficiency. That is the UN system.

Second, once we have the consensus, then we should go fast. So, the 8 demonstration and 53 pilot countries and to cover all the rest – all the 80 or 90 Members. You cannot do one after another. I strongly encourage you to play the piano, you can do it at the same time. That is the way to improve the efficiency. That is why I always run so many systems at the same time.

When I was in China, when I was a child, we used the pesticide dicophane (DDT) to kill the insects. It was really poisonous. That was over 50 years ago, but now the pesticide is much safer. However, I know some extremists say, ‘no, no spray of the pesticide.’ No, we have to control the disease and the insect first, of course, with less pollution, with less side effects. That is science based.

Second, we are not to limit ourselves to one tool or two tools. I always said that we need a lot of tools. Now, we use some resistant varieties and also, we are aiming to get transgenic, purely resistant. Even new types of technologies: gene editing or hybrids. Cybrids. You know we have cybrids. Cybrids are much better than hybrids.

Let us work together and do something concrete on the ground first and then we aim higher and longer. That is always the strategy, otherwise the farmers are waiting. We are talking and talking for one year and another, and all the diseases and pests are continuing on the ground. Mr Wu, what he mentioned, they can travel 1 000 kilometers easily. No, from South China to North China, it is more than 3 000 kilometers, so we should move fast. I will always push you, both Committees: the Steering and Technical Committees.

I know, Mr Robert Bertram, I admire you. I know it is not easy, you manage the scientists and technical people, it is not easy. We call it in Chinese, ‘if you have ten people, you will have twenty kind of opinions.’ Not only one for one, so if you have narrowed down to five or three and then get a go first. That is your challenge.

Thank you and Beth, now you are on board and I can move to other issues. FAO has so many issues.

Thank you.

Now it is your time, you make the Closing Remarks. They will follow your guidance. I just give my personal observation.