The Atlantic Food Summit, sponsored in part by the Council for Biotechnology Information, brought together experts on Tuesday, April 26th, for a panel discussion on the meaning of sustainable agriculture and ways to reconcile different perspectives on agricultural production to feed the world sustainably. Watch the video of the sustainable agriculture panel here (54:00 minute mark).
Nina Fedoroff, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest scientific society, pointed out the importance of using all agricultural methods available to feed the world sustainably - including organic, conventional and biotech. She explained that genetically modified crops allow farmers to decrease pesticide applications, soil tilling, water run-off and waste.
Dr. Fedoroff said two policy reforms that would promote sustainable agriculture include: 1) putting agency authority for biotech product deregulations in a central location, rather than requiring interaction with three separate agencies, to help streamline the biotech product approval process, and 2) reducing costly regulatory barriers. She emphasized that technology is essential for providing enough food to feed the world. “My view is: let’s use the most modern day methods and modern science to increase productivity.”
Molly Jahn, Professor at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, also supported an inclusive agricultural policy. “Every technology that maximizes input and minimizes the environmental burden is critical.” Dr. Jahn and Sarah Alexander from the Keystone Center explained some of the efforts they are spearheading to bring diverse stakeholders to the same table to tackle these challenges, such as the Keystone Center’s Field to Market initiative.
The full panel included:
- Sarah Alexander, Director of the Environment Practice, The Keystone Center
- Nina Fedoroff, President, American Association for the Advancement of Science
- Gary Hirshberg, Chief Executive Officer, Stonyfield Farm
- Molly Jahn, Professor at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Corby Kummer, Senior Editor at The Atlantic (moderator)
Click here to watch the sustainable agriculture panel discussion and the rest of the food summit.
Want to hear from experts and policy makers on hot topics like food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture? Then mark your calendars for the Atlantic Food Summit on Tuesday, April 26 from 8:00 AM - 2:30 PM EST. The annual summit, this year sponsored in part by CBI, will feature an exciting line-up of speakers who are top experts in agriculture and food production and policy.
USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will give the morning keynote address. Thereafter, Dr. Nina Fedoroff, President of AAAS, the world’s largest scientific society, will participate in a panel discussion on sustainable agriculture.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), who serves as co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus, and internationally acclaimed chef José Andrés, founder of ThinkFoodGroup, will share their unique insights on the food security, access and affordability panel.
You can watch the event live on The Atlantic’s website. CBI will also keep you updated with live tweets from the event @agbiotech.
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.
In November, CBI blogged about the Leonardo Academy’s search for applicants to fill seven vacant seats on its National Sustainable Agriculture Standards Committee, which aims to establish a common set of economic, environmental and social metrics by which to determine whether an agricultural crop has been produced in a sustainable manner. The committee announced that is has filled these open seats. The new committee members include representatives from the National Cotton Council and the Soil and Water Conservation Society.
You can read more about the committee and learn about the backgrounds of its newest members here.
CBI Expert Dr. Pamela Ronald’s book “Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetic and the Future of Food” (co-authored by her husband, R. W. Adamchak, an organic farming expert) is now out in paperback and on Kindle. Originally released in 2008, the book highlights the science of plant genetics and organic farming and the benefits of marrying the two as a way of working towards sustainable agricultural production.