In this informational video, Huffington Post Science blogger Cara Santa Maria interviews Dr. Kevin Folta, a professor in the plant molecular and cellular biology program at the University of Florida, to learn more about the process of genetic modification. Dr. Folta sheds light on the science behind the cultivation of biotech crops and discusses the technology’s benefits.
“We need to be able to feed more people higher quality food with less environmental impact, and to me all of those things are in the hands of being able to rapidly generate new plant lines and new production practices, whether it’s improved organic and sustainable practices, whether it’s better conventional practices, or conventional breeding, transgenics should be part of that,” he explains. Read more.
Beyond hitting nearly three-quarters of U.S. corn and soybean crops, drought has had a global impact on food price volatility and agricultural productivity. To help address these challenges, World Food Prize Laureate Catherine Bertini and former US Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman call for supporting agricultural research and technologies that will help equip farmers with the tools they need to manage severe drought conditions.
They state in a Politico opinion piece, “We should increase support for the agricultural researchers, in the U.S. and around the world, who are developing remarkable new drought and flood tolerant crop varieties. The results of this research will be essential if the agricultural sector is to continue to meet food demand in the face of weather variability.” READ MORE »
Farmers in South Dakota are watching closely to see how the new drought-tolerant biotech corn varieties perform when rainfall is six inches short over the last two months.
“I think it will be a good year even if we don’t have those 200 bushel yields,” Jared Questad, a farmer in Baltic, S.D., told KELO TV in Sioux Falls.
Questad, who is also a seed dealer for Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, has the new AQUAmax variety in test plots. Other farmers in the area are testing Monsanto’s DroughtGard. The trials will help determine the viability of the new products under real-world conditions.
“We’re going to find out this year because this is the largest, widest range testing that’s going to be done on these products,” said Larry Wagner, agronomy crops field specialist at South Dakota State University Extension.
Drought tolerance is another trait brought to field crops by biotechnology, says Corby Jensen, Monsanto’s technology development manager for Nebraska and the Dakotas.
“It’s about the whole package, eliminating weeds that can rob the soils of valuable water, better genetics, residue management, using no-till practices have been a proven way to conserve soil moisture. So, again it’s about putting all those pieces together to give yourself the best chance at success possible,” Jensen said. Read more.
California’s Proposition 37 to require labeling of foods with biotech ingredients, if it is passed and goes into effect, would be a “boondoggle” for litigation attorneys, a legal expert says, since it authorizes citizen lawsuits against alleged violators.
“This will result in employment for lawyers,” commented Gary E. Marchant, professor of emerging technologies, law and ethics at the Arizona State University College of Law. Lawyers can collect legal fees and seek punitive damages under Prop 37 and California law, he noted. Marchant spoke during a teleconference debate on Prop 37 sponsored by the American Bar Association.
Prop 37 authorizes private citizens - and plaintiff’s attorneys - to bring lawsuits alleging violations of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA). This law allows consumers to sue without having to demonstrate that any specific damage occurred as a result of the alleged violation, according to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). CLRA allows for punitive damages, which can be substantial. Prop 37 also allows the court to award these parties all reasonable costs incurred in investigating and prosecuting the action. READ MORE »