Biotechnology is a fundamental part of the innovation in agriculture that has made America a breadbasket to the world, experts say.
“We’re a very productive country,” says Dr. Thomas Carter, research geneticist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service. “We are a breadbasket for the world…we’re seeing greater technological innovation, from the lab to the field.”
Thanks to modern farming techniques, America’s farmers are producing more food than ever before on fewer acres. Among recent innovations in agriculture is the use of seeds improved with biotechnology - using scientific research to enhance the plant’s ability to resist harmful pests, more effectively utilize water, and allow the farmer to control weeds more efficiently.
“Continued research and breeding, including the use of biotechnology, is essential in developing varieties that can survive and sustain economic yields despite seasonal droughts and higher temperatures we expect in the future,” says Dr. Kent Bradford, professor and director of the Seed Biotechnology Center at the University of California, Davis. Read more.
A field trial of drought-tolerant corn took place at Western Kentucky University. Photo courtesy Syngenta.
This summer’s severe drought, which has resulted in substantial crop losses throughout the entire Midwest, has put the latest agricultural technologies to the test, MIT’s Technology Review reports. Agricultural researchers and scientists are developing plant breeding and biotechnology innovations which can improve a crop’s ability to use water more efficiently and tolerate drought conditions, in hopes of addressing future challenges presented by adverse weather conditions.
Farmers participating in field trials of drought-tolerant varieties have reported positive results thus far. Illinois farmer Mike Cyrulik notes that his healthier drought-tolerant corn has “wound up being the talk of the town,” adding that he expects a significantly higher yield in his acres planted with the drought-tolerant variety. Read more.
A group of agricultural and scientific organizations praised President Obama for expressing his Administration’s support of “food security, agricultural production and science-based regulation” during the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ G8 discussion entitled “Advancing Food and Nutrition Security.”
In a letter to the President, signed by 38 national organizations representing major sectors of agriculture and science, the groups emphasized that “agricultural innovation, including modern biotechnology, will be necessary to ensure farmers have the tools they need to produce safe and nutritious food, in addition to feed, fuel and fiber, in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner.”
The experts committed to collaborating with the Administration to ensure that agricultural production and scientific innovations help feed a growing world population, which is expected to reach nine billion by 2040. Read the full letter here.
China aims to increase investment in agricultural innovation
Reuters reported on China’s announcement Wednesday that it was looking to boost agricultural innovation in an effort to increase food output.
Technological innovation in the agricultural sector, which includes implementation of a program promoting the application of genetically modified (GM) technology, would “improve land yield, resource efficiency and labor productivity,” the official Xinhua news agency said. Read more
USAID grant awarded for ag biotech research in Bangladesh and Indonesia
According to The Sacramento Bee , the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded a grant to develop salt-tolerant rice and measure greenhouse gas emissions from conventional rice fields in Bangladesh and nitrogen-use-efficient crops in Indonesia.
Through biotechnology methods, researchers will help each country to increase crop yields and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Read more