The Truth About Biotech Crops

There have been some misconceptions floating around in the internet with regard to biotech crop opposition in Europe and Japan. To set the record straight, neither Europe nor Japan is opposed to biotech crops. Their approval processes may take longer than those in the United States, Canada, Australia, and many other countries, but Japan and many European countries are importing biotech food and feed products, and several European countries successfully grow biotech crops. This technology is broadly accepted and adopted worldwide.

In fact, 13.3 million farmers in 25 countries are using agricultural biotechnology today. Ninety percent (12.3 million) of these are resource-poor farmers in 15 developing countries. Biotech crops provide solutions for today?s farmers in the form of plants that yield more per acre, resist diseases and insect pests and reduce the need to till soil and apply chemicals, therefore reducing farmers? production costs. This also improves soil health and water retention.

We think it’s important to remember that farmers are intelligent, informed business people, and they use these crops because they are an integral part of their business. They have a choice to grow whatever crops they wish, using whatever methods they wish, and they are choosing to grow biotech crops in larger numbers every year.

At a time when the United States and the world are looking for science-based solutions to help feed a growing population, agricultural biotechnology is able to deliver heartier crops that produce more food, often in areas with less-than-perfect growing conditions. If a technology can produce more food while helping farmers and the environment, isn?t it worth pursuing?

Senator Suggests Biotech to Help Combat Hunger, Climate Change

Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) made a science-based plea this week for the international community to embrace agricultural biotechnology as one weapon in the warn against world hunger and climate change. 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of which Senator Lugar is ranking member, held a hearing on January 28th where strategies for addressing global climate change were discussed.  The hearing’s key witness was Former Vice President and climate change expert Al Gore.  Gore’s testimony focused on our “dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels.”

But in his opening statement, Lugar said “the United States should recognize that steps to address climate change involve economic opportunities, not just constraints.”  Opportunities such as these exist in the dynamic science of agricultural biotechnology.

Lugar said:  “Genetically modified (GM) crops have the potential to improve agriculture production in the poorest regions of the world and help poor farmers contend with increased drought, new pests, and other consequences of a changing climate. Yet many developing countries, especially in Africa, worry that if they adopt GM crops, they will not be able to export to markets in Europe. They also are deeply influenced by the direct advocacy of European government agencies and NGOs that are hostile to biotechnology.  The ironic result has been that African nations have developed stifling, European-inspired regulations on GM technology, even as they continue to struggle to ensure adequate food supplies and they rightly worry about the coming impact of climate change on their agricultural productivity.

“Opposition to safe GM technology contributes to hunger in Africa in the short run and virtually ensures that these poor countries will lack the tools in the long run to adapt their agriculture to changing climatic conditions that could create chaos. As a wealthy continent with a relatively secure food supply, Europe has the luxury to reject the benefits of GM technology without fear that its domestic populations will suffer intensifying hunger. But most African countries have no such luxury…We must not allow an aversion to modern agricultural technology to doom a part of the world’s population to chronic hunger and poverty.”