Considering there is limited supply of farmland, a billion people who are underfed, and a growing population, “organic methods alone can’t feed the world in a sustainable way,” Marc Gunther says in Sustainable Business Forum.
He cites scientific research published last month in the Nature International Weekly Journal of Science, which finds that “overall, organic yields are typically lower than conventional yields.”
The study, Gunther observes, “points to a key drawback in organic agriculture: it is typically less efficient and productive than conventional growing methods.” In today’s world, with a limited supply of farmland, a billion people who are underfed, and a growing population, Gunther points out, “organic methods alone can’t feed the world in a sustainable way.”
Noting that “less than 1% of US farmland is farmed organically,” Gunther points out that most farmers use conventional methods to ensure high productivity. Biotechnology is widely used across the U.S. to increase the yield of staple foods. According to the USDA’s data on U.S. agriculture in 2011, 94% of soybeans grown were biotech; 90% of cotton is biotech and 88% of corn is biotech. Read more.
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. READ MORE »
When contemplating the role of biotechnology-derived crops today, Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, asks readers to consider the rapidly increasing world population. By 2050, she says, the world “will likely have another two billion mouths to feed and face an estimated 70% increase in global food demand.” In order to meet the needs of future generations, new agricultural technologies must be implemented. Coleman concludes that a variety of tactics should be used to boost agricultural production, adding that “we would be remiss if we do not include GM crops in the toolkit.” READ MORE »
Restrictions on genetically modified (GM) foods could negatively impact Europe’s competiveness in developing solutions to the global challenges of food security and climate change, the European Union’s first-ever chief scientific adviser, Anne Glover, said in an interview with PublicServiceEurope.com.
Citing her research experience in molecular biology, Dr. Glover noted biotechnology’s contributions to innovation. “There has been an unparalleled acceleration of our knowledge generation through the use of GM,” she said.
Dr. Glover, who plans to focus on promoting the agricultural industry and sustainability, called on the European Union to consider biotechnology “based on evidence and not emotion.”
“By turning our backs on the evidence, there is a question over whether we are still going to be as competitive. We need to seriously look at GM crops when we tackle [to] the global problem of climate change and being able to feed the population of the world.” Read more.
The challenge of feeding a growing world population demands the use of new technologies, including biotechnology, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman said Wednesday.
“I don’t think you can make a quantum leap in food production without embracing new technologies, including biotechnology,” he said. “We have to not be afraid of new technology. We have to make sure we have good science, so that safety is a priority. But we won’t be able to meet the ultimate threat without going down this road,” he said.
Glickman spoke during a panel discussion sponsored by AGree, a program addressing food and agricultural policy. He said he raised questions about biotech during his tenure at the Department of Agriculture (1995-2001), but ultimately became convinced of the safety and efficacy of biotechnology.