Mark Lynas’s recent apology for his years of anti-GMO activism and subsequent expression of support for the technology has shifted the entire debate surrounding GMOs, according to Forbes‘ Richard Levick. Levick wrote that that the environmental activist’s speech “wasn’t just an acknowledgement of error. It was the recantation of an agenda.”
Such an about-face based on scientific inquiry by a notable environmentalist strengthens the case for ag biotech, while widening the perimeters of debate. “We hope that the tremendous reaction to the speech by Mark Lynas serves as evidence that honest consideration of the science will change minds about agricultural biotechnology,” says Dr. Cathleen Enright, executive director of the Council for Biotechnology Information in Washington, D.C.
Levick concludes: “The challenge posed to the environmentalists is to rely on science everywhere or rely on it nowhere. If they opt for science, they may discover, or at least need to consider, what Lynas came to believe: that, for example, GM does not increase the use of chemicals as pest-resistant cotton and maize require less insecticide. Or that the mixing of genes between unrelated species is no more unnatural than the gene flows that have driven evolution since life began.” Read more.
In observance of World Food Day, C. S. Prakash, Ph. D. of the College of Agriculture at Tuskegee University remarked that ag biotech remains vitally important in the fight against world hunger, through the production of plants that resist pests and disease responsible for significant crop damage in the developing world, and the continued cultivation of more nutritious strains of staple crops.
“Biotechnology represents a frontier advance in agricultural science, and has far-reaching potential in advancing global food production in an environmentally sustainable manner,” he stated, reiterating as well that “leading scientists around the world are attesting to the health and environmental safety of agricultural biotechnology, and now they are calling for genetically modified crops to be extended to the people who need it most - hungry people in the developing world.”
As we continue to work towards eliminating world hunger amid an expanding global population, Dr. Prakash concluded that “biotechnology represents a powerful tool that we can employ in concert with many other traditional approaches in increasing food production in the face of diminishing land and water resources.” Read more.
According to physicians interviewed by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation, biotechnology contributes to a safe, nutritious and more abundant food supply. Their insights shed light on issues important to consumers today, including food labeling, food security and sustainable agriculture.
On the topic of food labeling, Dr. Laurie Green, an obstetrician-gynecologist in San Francisco, California, points out that labels on foods containing genetically modified (GM) ingredients could be confusing to consumers. “It’s much more important to label items that might truly cause harm than [genetically modified] foods that have been used for 20 years in 29 countries and consumed by millions and millions of people,” she said.
Dr. Green also discussed the benefits of biotechnology for sustainable agriculture. “Biotechnology has led to foods that require less pesticides, fewer herbicides, and even combat viruses that damage crops, so overall these methodologies have so improved the quality of our environment and the quality of our food supply,” she said.
READ MORE »
According to Reuters and Bloomberg, China signed agreements in Iowa to purchase biotech soybeans from American suppliers, strengthening the trade relationship between the two countries. The Wall Street Journal noted that Iowa is the nation’s biggest grower of biotech soybeans, while China is the world’s biggest importer and consumer.
The following day, Chinese and U.S. officials, including China’s Vice President Xi Jinping, attended the USDA’s first inaugural “U.S.-China Agricultural Symposium” in Des Moines. The USDA announced that U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu had signed a historic Plan of Strategic Cooperation, designed to guide the two countries’ agricultural relationship over the next 5 years.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack explained, “This plan builds on the already strong relationship our nations enjoy around agricultural science, trade, and education. It looks to deepen our cooperation through technical exchange and to strengthen coordination in priority areas like animal and plant health and disease, food security, sustainable agriculture, genetic resources, agricultural markets and trade, and biotechnology and other emerging technologies.”
On April 26, CBI sponsored The Atlantic Food Summit, which brought together leading experts in food and agriculture to discuss solutions to pressing challenges such as sustainable agriculture and global food security. Check out the slideshow below for some photos from the event. Full video from the Food Summit is available here.
Click the “full screen” button in the bottom right corner of the slideshow below to view the slideshow full screen.