Interesting ag biotech news from around the world this week includes the promotion of biotech crops by a farmer in Italy and improvements in Asian rice that could result in significant yield increases.
An Italian farmer fights for GM crops
Italian farmer Giorgio Fidenato is determined to promote the benefits of biotech crops, going so far as to plant GM corn on his farm, despite Italy’s moratorium on genetically modified seeds that was enacted in March. “Our biggest goal is to show consumers that it is safe to eat,” he says, in an Associated Press article.
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Just this past week China’s government issued safety certificates to domestically developed strains of biotech rice and maize after years of review and testing. This decision is significant as China is the world’s top producer of rice, yielding about 30% of the world’s rice, and the second largest maize producer after the US.
China’s signal of support for agricultural biotechnology has the potential to lead to greater adoption and acceptance of biotech crops globally.
The Wall Street Journal reported on China’s decision. You can read the article here.
Jim McCarthy, an Irish farmer and a participant in the Truth About Trade & Technology’s Global Farmer-to-Farmer Roundtable at the 2009 World Food Prize Symposium, penned an op-ed for Forbes.com about the importance of access to biotechnology for farmers worldwide.
Mr. McCarthy farms in Ireland and Argentina and grows wheat, corn and soybeans. He finds that the restrictive anti-biotech laws in Ireland contradict our need to grow more food on less land in order to meet the demands of a growing population.
According to Mr. McCarthy, “Europe must do its part to produce more and use its influence, especially in Africa, to encourage biotechnology. The policy of refusing to take GM crops seriously sets us up for an awful tragedy.”
Read more of Jim McCarthy’s piece here and please comment with your thoughts.
Scientists have confirmed the advantages of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn and genetically modified (GM) crops over traditional strains in a seminar held at the Linden Suites in Ortigas Center as part of the Pan-Asia Farmers Exchange 2009 from August 4 to 6.
Dr. Violeta Villegas, an expert in plant pathology, said Bt corn has been genetically modified to resist the Asiatic corn borer, a pest that has ravaged corn plantations in the past. Apart from the improved quality of harvest, she added that Bt corn reduces the use of pesticides, which also slashes the production cost of farmers.
Read the full story here.