By Richard L. Lobb, Managing Director
Council for Biotechnology Information
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jose Fernandez has strongly reaffirmed the government’s support of agricultural biotechnology as a way to produce the food needed by a growing world population. Biotech can help “produce more food using less land, less water, less fertilizer and less pesticide,” he says.
“Agricultural biotechnology has already shown it can increase crop yields dramatically,” Fernandez says. “Just to give you an idea of how dramatically: Over the past 15 years, agricultural biotechnology has enabled the production of 229 million more tons of food, feed, and fiber.”
In a video released by the State Department, where he is in charge of economic and business affairs, Fernandez said the nations of the world will need to increase global food production 70 percent by the year 2050.
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The scientific, economic and social benefits of biotechnology are clear, yet government regulations continue to stifle new biotech innovations that will help our economy grow. Dr. Nina Fedoroff, former science and technology advisor for the U.S. State Department and professor of biology at Pennsylvania State University, emphasized this in a New York Times op-ed article about the safety and efficacy of biotech crops.
She points out GM crops lower costs for farmers by producing higher yields on less land, while also benefiting the environment with reduced pesticide use and tilling. These advances are particularly important to help feed a quickly growing world population, but because of complicated regulatory hurdles there are only a handful of varieties of approved biotech crops. Dr. Fedoroff sums it up and writes, “It is time to relieve the regulatory burden slowing down the development of genetically modified crops. ” Read more.