Former USDA Secretary Dan Glickman says technology will improve the global food supply
During The Atlantic’s event “Feeding Future Generations” in Washington D.C., Former USDA Secretary Dan Glickman said technology is necessary to feed a growing world population. He pointed out that possible cuts to the U.S. foreign assistance budget add urgency to helping other countries, particularly in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa, to produce higher yielding crops. Read more.
UC-Berkeley plant biologist points out the high costs of GM food labeling
In the University of California-Berkeley’s Food Blog, biotechnology specialist Dr. Peggy Lemaux discusses the high potential costs consumers would need to pay if there was mandatory genetically modified (GM) food labeling in the US.
“If there is widespread agreement on the need for labeling, then a market could arise for GMO-free labeled foods for which people would pay extra,” Lemaux said. “This would be similar to the current situation with Kosher and organic foods. Since having access to GMO-free foods is not a matter of food safety, but food preference, this approach would lead to a situation in which only those people who want the extra information would pay for it.” Read more.
Report: Delays in GM crop approvals are putting Europe’s food security at risk
According to Reuters, Europe’s biotechnology industry presented EU policy makers with a report demonstrating that “agricultural imports vital to EU food security” are increasingly being put at risk due to delays in the approval of GM crops. The report urges the European Commission, which oversees GM crop approvals, to make a commitment to reducing the backlog of applications. Read more.
GM cotton enables women farmers in Colombia more economic independence
Women farmers in Colombia said the adoption of GM cotton has allowed them more economic independence, Science and Development Network reports. A study by the International Food Policy Research Institute found women farmers could save time and money on weeding and hiring male labor.
Jonathan Gressel, a plant sciences professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, pointed out from the study, “The best way to empower developing world women is to get them out of weeding and into mainstream life - including schooling and commerce. The added value of [GM] is that it provides the women farmers even less dependence upon others.” Read the full study here.
Research shows Europe’s opposition to GM crops not based on sound science
Research from the University of Edinburgh in the UK finds that Europe’s restrictions on GM crops, despite adoption of the technology around the world, demonstrate regulation is not based on sound science.
Professor Joyce Tait of the University of Edinburgh’s ESRC Innogen Centre, who took part in the research, said, “At a time when an increasing number of people are living in hunger and climate change threatens crops, the system that regulates GM food sources ought to become more based on evidence.” Read more.
This month the European Commission released the results from a ten-year study that examined the environmental, health and social impacts of GMOs. The study finds that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, pose no more health or environmental risks than conventionally bred crops. In addition, the report states that we must not overlook GMOs in our efforts to address the challenges of the 21st century, including a growing population, a changing climate and limited fossil fuel resources.
The publication presents the results of 50 projects, involving more than 400 research groups and representing European Union research grants of 200M Euros (approximately $300 million). The publication builds on a report released by the commission in 2001 that studied the impacts of GMOs for fifteen years.
The European Commission writes in the foreword to the report that “biotechnology is not a purely academic exercise: its findings and developments will lead to applications and products essential to society.” You can read the full report here.
Interesting ag biotech news from around the world this week includes the promotion of biotech crops by a farmer in Italy and improvements in Asian rice that could result in significant yield increases.
An Italian farmer fights for GM crops
Italian farmer Giorgio Fidenato is determined to promote the benefits of biotech crops, going so far as to plant GM corn on his farm, despite Italy’s moratorium on genetically modified seeds that was enacted in March. “Our biggest goal is to show consumers that it is safe to eat,” he says, in an Associated Press article.
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Jim McCarthy, an Irish farmer and a participant in the Truth About Trade & Technology’s Global Farmer-to-Farmer Roundtable at the 2009 World Food Prize Symposium, penned an op-ed for Forbes.com about the importance of access to biotechnology for farmers worldwide.
Mr. McCarthy farms in Ireland and Argentina and grows wheat, corn and soybeans. He finds that the restrictive anti-biotech laws in Ireland contradict our need to grow more food on less land in order to meet the demands of a growing population.
According to Mr. McCarthy, “Europe must do its part to produce more and use its influence, especially in Africa, to encourage biotechnology. The policy of refusing to take GM crops seriously sets us up for an awful tragedy.”
Read more of Jim McCarthy’s piece here and please comment with your thoughts.