The U.S. Department of Agriculture turns 150 years old in May, having been created by Congress and President Lincoln in 1862. Leaders of the agricultural community are pointing to biotechnology as a continuation of the scientific approach to agriculture that USDA has promoted from the beginning.
In a recent column, American Farm Bureau Federation President and CEO Bob Stallman outlined the history and continuity of USDA’s mission:
“On May 15, 1862, President Lincoln signed into law a bill establishing a new Department of Agriculture, which was specifically directed to acquire information through ‘practical and scientific experiments’ and to collect and propagate ‘new and valuable seeds and plants’ and distribute these to the nation’s agriculturists,” Stallman wrote.
“The federal government was, from the beginning of its involvement in agriculture, dedicated to scientific progress in farming. This commitment continues today and is shared by farmers and ranchers across the country,” Stallman wrote, adding, “The importance of science and innovation - biotechnology in particular - to agriculture will be significant as we face several challenges in the years ahead.”
“Our Earth is fragile,” Stallman wrote in his column. “To take care of our environment, we must embrace agriculture research, science, innovation and biotechnology. When it comes to medical care, communication and transportation we accept the importance of innovation. We need to do the same when it comes to the production of food.”
Former Secretary of Agriculture John Block, in his radio program, also took note of USDA’s 150th anniversary and the connection to biotech.
“By year 2050, the world will have 2 billion more mouths to feed,” Block pointed out. “We have a challenge. However, we can successfully meet that challenge if we continue to promote agricultural research, science, innovation - including today’s amazing productivity-driven biotechnology.” Read more.