Biotech and GMO Seeds Good For Consumer and Farmer
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Grain farmers plant thousands of acres of genetically modified (GMO) seeds in the local area. They recognize the value of these seeds, even though they can be expensive. Using GMO seeds reduces the risks from certain insects and diseases and allows fewer trips across the fields to get the crop planted. They also have increased yields of both corn and soybeans dramatically in the past 10 years.
Across the United States, growers have readily adapted to GMO seeds. Estimates are that as many as 90 percent of the growers use them because they have higher yields and are more environmentally friendly.
Equally as important as GMO seeds and biotechnology are to growers are their value to consumers. They help provide an adequate food supply and keep food costs down. They are essential in this world of an exploding population that will need much more food in the future.
In the United States, soybean growers from the United Soybean Board recently joined with growers from Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay to meet with representatives of the feed and food industries in the European Union and government officials in those countries. They were supporting the use of biotechnology in soybean production. The United States and the four South American countries grow 90 percent of the soybeans in the world.
Grower representatives worked hard to inform those countries that biotechnology and GMO crops are safe and are here to stay. In the EU, Anne Grover, the European Commission's chief scientific officer, agreed that biotech and GMO farm and food products have no greater risk than those produced by conventional methods. She said that the technology needs to be explored further to help the world produce more food with fewer resources such as land and water.
Other leaders from around the world have also agreed that if we are going to make the most and best use of our limited land, labor and other resources to provide an adequate food supply down the road, we are going to need more biotechnology.
In Europe and some other parts of the world, opposition to GMO and biotech is based more on emotions rather than facts. Over in Africa, mostly GMO foods are imported. Africans have eaten them for 20 years with no adverse health or environmental risks, according to biotech expert Padi Tetteh at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana.
Over in India, cotton used to be imported. Now with the use of a GMO seed, Bt cotton, they are an exporting country. Ninety-five percent of the cotton grown in India is Bt cotton. That country is also developing biotech maize and rice, including a vitamin A-fortified rice.
In the United States, there are a few groups that do not support biotech and GMO seeds. Again, they base their thinking on emotion, rather than factual evidence. Unfortunately what their emotions tell them becomes true, even though the facts say otherwise. They can't see the facts.
Agricultural biotech is important for consumers, farmers and the environment. It helps keep the food stores well stocked with plenty of food. Farmers have been able to increase yields and net incomes and they have done this with fewer trips over the land and using less fuel. If people do not adopt biotechnology, they are increasing the risks of food shortages and environmental problems.
Parker is retired from The Ohio State University and is an independent agricultural writer.