BIO Convention panel says biotech regulations harm American competitiveness
Regulatory hurdles for biotech crop approval could harm America’s competitiveness in the global market, BNA reports from a CBI-sponsored panel at the BIO International Convention. “Requiring genetically modified crops to be approved by both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Agriculture Department drives up the cost of production,” said Dr. Roger Beachy, president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and former Chief Scientist at the USDA. Read more.
Author Stewart Brand: Environmentalists should support biotech
In Dr. Pamela Ronald’s science blog Tomorrow’s Table, eminent author and well-known environmental leader Stewart Brand discusses why environmentalists should consider biotech to help feed the world. Mr. Brand reviews a seminar given by Peter Kareiva, the chief scientist of the Nature Conservancy. Read more.
Kenya plans to approve GM maize to mitigate food shortages
According to Reuters, Kenya plans to approve genetically modified (GM) maize to alleviate food shortages. “The maize shortage threatens to cripple the supply of flour in the country after six major millers closed their main plants, and millers said GM would curb future shortfalls,” the article points out. Read more.
Indian farmer says biotech crops contribute to agricultural productivity
In a Wall Street Journal online forum to debate the impact of GM crops in India, an Indian farmer said GM crops have “undoubtedly” improved agricultural productivity. Vanchinathan Ravichandran grows biotech cotton, which he says occupies 90% of cotton cultivation since the technology was approved in 2002. He urges policy makers to remove bans on other biotech crops: “We need crops with improved traits such as drought tolerance, submergence tolerance, salinity resistance and so on.” He adds, “When Genetically Modified crops can provide answers to these issues, why deprive us of the opportunity to benefit from science and technology?” Read more.
GM crops could help Zimbabwe achieve food security
News Day, a Zimbabwe publication, said the country should be more open to GM technology to help meet the challenge of food security. The article points out Zimbabwean farmers need the technology to produce more crops on less land. “The Western world is flourishing because of GM food. But then why is GM technology shunned in Zimbabwe?” Read more.
Dr. Pamela Ronald discusses benefits of GM crops at New Zealand lecture
Dr. Pamela Ronald, Professor of Plant Pathology at UC-Davis and author of Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food, posted a blog on the benefits of GM crops and the negative impact of regulatory hurdles in New Zealand. Dr. Ronald discussed her lecture at the Royal Society in Wellington, New Zealand, where she made the point that GM crops have “enhanced [the] goals of sustainable agriculture.” Read more.
Dr. Mehmet Oz
On December 7 CBI Expert Dr. Pamela Ronald will be a featured guest on “The Dr. Oz Show” for a discussion on the safety of GMOs. Dr. Ronald is a Professor of Plant Pathology at UC-Davis and the author of Tomorrow’s Table, a book she co-wrote with her husband, an organic farmer, about the benefits of both GM crops and organic farming.
Dr. Oz directs the Cardiovascular Institute at New York Presbyterian Hospital and has served as a health expert on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” since 2004. “The Dr. Oz Show” debuted in 2009 and focuses on medical issues and personal health.
Joining Dr. Ronald in the discussion will be Jeffrey Smith from the Institute of Responsible Technology (read a review of his report about GMOs by the scientists at Academics Review) and Dr. Michael Hansen of the Consumers Union.
Be sure to tune in December 7 at 3:00 PM EST to watch Dr. Pamela Ronald. For more information and to find your local station broadcasting “The Dr. Oz Show,” visit: http://www.doctoroz.com/. They’ll also include Dr. Ronald on “The Dr. Oz Show” website on the 7th.
Be sure to Tweet, blog and share this with your friends, family and colleagues.
Tues., December 7
3:00 PM EST (the discussion will air at the beginning of the show)
The Economist Magazine is hosting an online debate discussing whether biotechnology can be used to advance sustainable agriculture. CBI Expert and author of Tomorrow’s Table Dr. Pamela Ronald of University of California - Davis has provided the opening statement on behalf of the motion that biotechnology can contribute to sustainable agriculture. Dr. Ronald writes, “Well-documented benefits of GE crops include massive reductions of insecticides in the environment, improved soil quality and reduced erosion, prevention of destruction of the Hawaiian papaya industry, proven health benefits to farmers and families growing GE crops as a result of reduced exposure to harsh chemicals…”
Vote in the Economist Magazine’s debate: are biotechnology and sustainable agriculture complementary?
You can weigh in with your view and vote in the debate. Voting ends November 10. Vote and read more here.
Several Leading Environmentalists voice support for agricultural biotechnology
In recent years well-known environmentalists such as Mark Lynas, Stewart Brand and Patrick Moore, one of the founding members of Greenpeace, have reversed their unfavorable positions towards genetically modified (GM) crops and have voiced support for GM Crops as a result of data that demonstrates the environmental benefits of agricultural biotechnology. According to a piece in the UK Telegraph, “Mr. Lynas, who along with other activists ripped up trial GM crops in the 1990s, said that GM food had now been consumed by millions of people in the US for more than 10 years without harm, and this had convinced him to change his views.” Read more.
USDA announces plans to re-approve genetically modified sugar beets
The USDA announced plans to move forward with approving genetically modified (GM) sugar beets for a second time this week. A recent federal court ruling has called for an additional environmental assessment of the crop before it can be planted again, despite it having been approved by the USDA five years ago. Genetically modified sugar beets currently account for 95 percent of the U.S. crop and according to an estimate by the USDA, if farmers cannot plant it next spring, U.S. sugar production will be cut by about 20 percent. Read more.
Dr. Pamela Ronald with her best-selling book "Tomorrow's Table"
CBI Expert Dr. Pamela Ronald, Professor of Plant Pathology at Univ. of California- Davis, along with James McWilliams, fellow in the Agrarian Studies Program at Yale University, penned an op-ed in the New York Times that discusses a National Research Council (NRC) report about biotech crops that was recently released. The scientists write that many people who reported on the study overlooked or dismissed the findings in the report that acknowledge genetic engineering’s (GE) positive contributions to society and the opportunity for GE crops to help farmers in the developing world achieve greater yields despite difficult growing conditions.
Dr. Ronald and Dr. McWilliams write,
Lost in the din is the potential role this technology could play in the poorest regions of the world - areas that will bear the brunt of climate change and the difficult growing conditions it will bring. Indeed, buried deep in the council’s report is an appeal to apply genetic engineering to a greater number of crops, and for a greater diversity of purposes.
What do you think of the argument Ronald and McWilliams put forth in this New York Times op-ed? Do you agree that opponents to the technology have hindered the advancement of crops that can save lives and access to this technology for those who need help most?