Karl Haro von Mogel from Biofortified recently posted a video interview with Dr. Robert McDonald, Vanguard Scientist at the Nature Conservancy from the 2009 BIO Conference.
When asked about his thoughts on the potential for biotechnology to contribute to sustainable agriculture Dr. McDonald said, “if there is scientific evidence that biotech crops are helpful we are going to support that.”
In particular, Karl asked Dr. McDonald about crops that may be engineered to have a trait known as nitrogen-use efficiency and how that may lead to a decrease in fertilizer use and runoff.
“Certainly nutrient runoff is one of the big issues we worry about, and in principal, any technology, whether it’s biotechnology or improved management practices that can reduce runoff from a site is a positive.”
Footage of the entire interview can be found on Karl’s site. Dr. Robert McDonald was also the author of a CBI Guest Blog.
Sarah Stokes Alexander, Director of Sustainability and Leadership Programs for the Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, spoke to farmers and ranchers at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 91st annual meeting, which focused on the state of sustainable agriculture.
The Keystone Alliance aims to find ways to increase agriculture production for the long-term without having negative impacts on the environment, and has developed the “Fieldprint Calculator” so farmers can assess their overall environmental impact in areas of energy use, soils loss, irrigation water use, land use and climate impact.
In the initial phase on the Fieldprint Calculator implementation, they found that farmers “already made significant strides in ‘sustainability’ as it relates to land and water use.”
This demonstrates real progress towards preserving the environment while feeding a growing world and is due, in part, to the wide-spread use of crop technology in the United States.
You can read more about the progress of the Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture here.
As a guest blogger on Dr. Pamela Ronald’s Tomorrow’s Table, Dr. Kent J. Bradford, Professor of Plant Sciences and Academic Director of the Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis and member of the CBI’s Experts List, discusses the role biotechnology plays in sustainability. Bradford cites a Keystone Center study that found that corn, cotton, and soybeans all improved in their level of sustainability between 1997 and 2007, a period during which GE varieties became dominant in these crops.
“The results from 13 years of commercial GE crops are clear,” Bradford says. “If CUESA (The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) and other groups are serious about advancing agricultural sustainability, they should encourage producers to use GE crops rather than avoid them. And if they want to educate urban consumers about sustainable agriculture, there is a great story to tell about biotechnology FOR sustainability.”
The entire article can be found here.
Please share your thoughts on biotechnology’s role in achieving sustainable agriculture.
Field to Market: The Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture has launched The Fieldprint Calculator, a free, online tool designed to help U.S. corn, cotton, soybean, and wheat growers assess how their operational decisions affect sustainability performance. The Calculator can estimate how a grower’s land use, energy use, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil loss per unit of output compares with state and national averages.
This is a trial version and Field to Market encourages feedback about the product. You can read more and provide feedback about the Fieldprint Calculator here
On World Food Day (Oct. 16), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hosted a conference call with media to discuss the growing threat of global food insecurity. They used the call to discuss their comprehensive approach to reducing the number of people worldwide who are chronically hungry (currently more than 1 billion).
The U.S. approach centers on “research, capacity-building, and technical assistance” and relies heavily on the production value of biotechnology. According to Sec. Vilsack, “sustainability and productivity are not mutually exclusive goals” and the United States will pursue both in its strategy to promote food production around the world.
The call’s transcript can be read here