Requiring labels on foods with genetically modified (GM) ingredients is unnecessary and presents no benefit for consumers, an editorial by the Hartford Courant—the nation’s oldest newspaper—states.
“The fight against genetically modified organisms is fueled more by fear and guesswork than by responsible evidence,” the article says. No credible scientific studies have shown that GM crops present a greater health risk than conventionally produced crops, it points out citing the position of the American Medical Association.
Furthermore, it says that labels are unnecessary because consumers can already identify GM foods: “These days, it’s a pretty safe bet that if you buy virtually any processed food, GMOs played a part in its manufacture; no label is necessary. Those who want non-GMO foods may look for the “USDA Organic” label, which indicates that no genetic modification took place.” Read more.
Crop biotechnology is desperately needed to meet problems of drought, saline soils, loss of farmland, rural poverty, and population growth, according to Neal Carter, an orchardist and bioresource engineer who has developed a non-browning apple.
“It’s a huge challenge, and biotech crops are leading the way in allowing us to address it,” Carter said in a talk at a TEDx conference. Carter’s company is bringing out the Arctic Apple, which doesn’t turn brown when sliced.
Carter took on the claims by biotech opponents that the technology is unsafe, pointing out that the food safety of genetically engineered crops has been affirmed by the American Medical Association, World Health Organization, and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, among other distinguished groups.
Biotechnology reduces food waste, makes better use of water, increases yields, improves farmer income, and improves people’s lives, Carter said.
A video of his presentation is available here.
While innovation is recognized as an important element for America’s manufacturing and information technology sectors, it also plays a critical role in advancing U.S. agriculture and making our farmers the most productive in the world. This was the theme of Agriculture: Growing Innovation & Opportunities, a conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today in Washington.
Conference speakers cited several innovations in agriculture that enable farmers to grow more food on less land, with fewer inputs and a smaller environmental footprint. These include better soil management practices, improved water conservation methods, the use of GPS technology and other smart applications, better nutrient management systems, and the development, maturation and utilization of agriculture biotechnology crops.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said innovations in crop genetics helped farmers cope with last summer’s drought. “We just suffered through the most serious drought that this country has faced since the 1930s. Had we faced this drought without seed genetics, we would have seen serious crop losses. We still had a corn crop ranked in the top 10 in productivity in U.S. history. And it’s a result of seed genetics and innovation. And it’s a result of farmers embracing new planting technologies that allow us to preserve and conserve water resources and still maintain and provide a crop,” he said. READ MORE »
British Environment Secretary Owen Paterson voiced his support this week for the production of genetically engineered crops in the UK, stating that there were “real environmental benefits” to the technology, BBC News reports. In an interview with Britain’s Daily Telegraph, he emphasized the potential role for ag biotech in advancing the British farming sector. Paterson also said accusations that biotech crops are unsafe are “nonsense” and “humbug.”
Secretary Paterson’s pro-biotech stance was echoed by the British government, which confirmed that it was encouraging European Commission officials to make it easier for farmers to grow GM crops. “We think this should be based on the science and we need to ensure public safety, but if we can speed up a slow [regulatory] system then we should do that,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson explained. Read more.
Last summer, as the United States faced the worst drought since 1988, the Council for Biotechnology Information shared stories of seed companies who were working with farmers across America’s farm belt to conduct field trials of drought-tolerant corn varieties, including Monsanto’s DroughtGardTM Hybrids, DuPont Pioneer’s hybrid AQUAmaxTM, and Syngenta’s Agrisure ArtesianTM.
Initial results of these field trials were positive, and the positive feedback has continued. This week, Syngenta announced that expanded results from 2012 field trials confirmed the drought-resistant variety’s impressive yields, reinforcing the importance of the role of agricultural technologies in mitigating the effects of drought on the U.S. and global food supply in the future.