2010 ISAAA report shows benefits of GE crops for farmers worldwide
A USA Today article citing the 2010 ISAAA report on the global status of biotech crops points out that biotech crops “have been enthusiastically embraced by farmers in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and China.” Higher yields from biotech varieties will help to feed a growing world population faced with the shrinking availability of land. Dr. Peggy Lemaux, at the University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Plant and Microbial Biology (and a CBI expert!), discusses the need for humanitarian assistance in order to ensure that the benefits of genetic engineering reach the world’s poorest farmers.
Dr. Lemaux says, “because of the expenses involved, creating engineered crops for developing countries requires humanitarian contributions by philanthropists like (Bill) Gates and the Rockefeller Foundation or perhaps by companies who see value in such endeavors.” Read more.
Forbes blog: Dr. Henry Miller responds to myths about GE crops
In a Forbes article, Dr. Henry Miller, author of The Frankenfood Myth and former founding director of the Office of Biotechnology at the FDA, criticizes the New York Times for propagating myths about genetically engineered crops instead of recognizing the worldwide success of the technology. Dr. Miller points out that arguments against the safety and benefits of GE crops fail to explain their widespread adoption. “Higher productivity, lower costs for inputs (including chemical pesticides), economic gains to farmers and environment-friendly agronomic practices have made it the most rapidly adopted agricultural technology in history.”
As was discussed at a recent AAAS panel on GMO crop regulations, Dr. Miller also questions the logic of regulations on genetically engineered crops, “Although they boast significant benefits and an unblemished record of safety, genetically engineered crops are subject to excessive, hugely expensive regulation in every country of the world that grows them.” Read more.
CBI attended the public briefing of a National Academies Report, “The Impact of Generically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States.”
According to the report in brief:
“Corn, cotton and soybean that have been engineered to resist insect pests and herbicides are now planted on almost half of all U.S. cropland. An analysis of the U.S. experience with genetically engineered crops shows that they offer substantial net environmental and economic benefits compared to conventional crops; however, these benefits have not been universal, some may decline over time, and potential benefits and risks may become more numerous as the technology is applied to more crops.”
The report concludes that additional research that studies the full effects of GE crops is needed, and private-public partnerships are necessary to help realize the full potential of genetic engineering.
The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and NPR all reported on this this important study issued by the National Resources Council, which is affiliated with NAS.
As a guest blogger on Dr. Pamela Ronald’s Tomorrow’s Table, Dr. Kent J. Bradford, Professor of Plant Sciences and Academic Director of the Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis and member of the CBI’s Experts List, discusses the role biotechnology plays in sustainability. Bradford cites a Keystone Center study that found that corn, cotton, and soybeans all improved in their level of sustainability between 1997 and 2007, a period during which GE varieties became dominant in these crops.
“The results from 13 years of commercial GE crops are clear,” Bradford says. “If CUESA (The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) and other groups are serious about advancing agricultural sustainability, they should encourage producers to use GE crops rather than avoid them. And if they want to educate urban consumers about sustainable agriculture, there is a great story to tell about biotechnology FOR sustainability.”
The entire article can be found here.
Please share your thoughts on biotechnology’s role in achieving sustainable agriculture.