Doug Jones holds up the book, “Tomorrow’s Table”. Looking on are the moderator from the League of Women voters and David Mitman.
Washington Friends of Farms & Forests helped coordinate an educational program about biotechnology in agriculture with the League of Women Voters.
About thirty people attended the March 25, 2010 event entitled, “Seeds of Change” held in Olympia. Two speakers compared their perspectives of the advantages and disadvantages of heritage seeds, genetically modified seeds and reused seeds.
Understanding the available science and technology is critical to solving the challenges of feeding the world. The intent of the program was to help the public better understand the use of biotechnology in agriculture as well as the perspective of seed savers. David Mitman spoke about the advantages of planting and saving natural seeds. Douglas R. Jones spoke about providing ample food, fiber, and now fuel, for a growing population.
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Special CBI Guest Blogger: Dr. Bruce Chassy
Professor, Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
David Tribe and I created the website Academics Review because there is so much misinformation about GM foods that is based on unfounded claims and shoddy thinking. When we read Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey Smith we were just astounded by the illogical, implausible and unfounded arguments he put forth against GM crops. Knowing that he is a gifted communicator who tells a good story, we became concerned that unsuspecting consumers who care about the safety and quality of their food might actually believe him so we created a website that analyzes every one of his anti-GM claims and finds each to be without merit. The experience has taught us how easy it is to fear-monger and peddle misinformation in the information age we live in today. As the late author Michael Crichton once observed, it’s the misinformation age, not the information age. We think that the role of the scientist must change to meet this new challenge to rationality and implore our colleagues to help set the record straight with the best available scientific evidence and thinking on a host of similarly misunderstood issues.
The American Farm Bureau released an informal survey of young American farmers and ranchers (18-35 years old) that shares information about young farmers’ attitudes towards the future of farming. Despite challenges such as the economy, 80 percent of young farmers surveyed say they are more optimistic than they were five years ago, and 96 percent of the respondents say they expect to be life-long farmers or ranchers.
The survey also asked about biotech crop use, and more than half of the young farmers (57 percent) intend to plant biotech crops this year, signaling that young farmers are in favor of agricultural biotechnology. These farmers and ranchers are also concerned about their carbon footprint, and 68 percent of those surveyed say that “balancing environmental and economic concerns is important for their operations.”
Young farmers are also overwhelmingly online, with nearly 99 percent saying they have access to and use the internet. Furthermore, young farmers actively participate in social media- nearly 75 percent of young farmers are members of Facebook, and 10 percent are on Twitter. Twelve percent of these farmers and ranchers said they post YouTube videos.
This Thursday, March 25, the League of Women Voters of Thurston County will host “Seeds of Change,” a discussion presenting two viewpoints about the future of agriculture. Douglas R. Jones, Executive Director of Growers for Biotechnology, will explain how biotech can help provide ample food for a growing population. Additionally, David Mitman, President of the local Seed Savers organization, will present the advantages of planting and saving natural seeds.
Growers for Biotechnology, Inc., is an organization that seeks to promote and facilitate the research, development and acceptance of agricultural biotechnology. It was the brainchild of seven farm producers, who determined that a need existed to tell a more complete story surrounding the benefits of biotechnology in agriculture.
The presentation will begin at 6:00 p.m., Thursday, March 25, at Traditions Cafe and Fair Trade. The café is located at 300 Fifth Ave. S.W., Olympia, WA.
Citrus Greening Disease, a bacterial disease affecting oranges, has spread to nearly every orange-growing county in Florida, cutting orange juice production significantly and hurting farmers and producers. According to a Greenwire article by Paul Voosen, a report released by the National Academy of Sciences concludes that “conventional plant breeding is unlikely to deliver resistant [citrus] varieties” and genetic engineering may be necessary to develop citrus crops that can withstand the disease.
With the exception of the papaya crop grown in Hawaii, genetically modified minor crops like oranges have not been commercialized. However, field tests of citrus trees engineered to resist the Greening Disease are already under way. Southern Gardens, one of Florida’s largest citrus producers, developed engineered trees in a partnership with Texas A&M. However, it is too early in the trials to show conclusive results, and it may take 10-15 years to develop the disease-resistant citrus.