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BUSINESS & POLICY: Potential for feeding a hungry world through biotechnology is nearly limitless



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   COMMENTARY: AMERICAN INNOVATION DRIVES AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

SOURCE:  Californian Farm Bureau Federation, USA (CFBF)

AUTHOR:  John Hart

URL:     http://www.cfbf.com/agalert/AgAlertStory.cfm?ID=1781&ck=8B6A80C3CF2CBD5F967063618DC54F39

DATE:    24.08.2011

SUMMARY: "The potential for feeding a hungry world through biotechnology is nearly limitless. Agricultural biotechnology is safe, sustainable and serves consumers by ensuring an abundant food supply. It is time to invigorate America?s innovative spirit by renewing our commitment to agricultural biotechnology, removing the regulatory hurdles that stand in the way and continuing to make consumers aware that biotech crops are not only safe but desperately needed."

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COMMENTARY: AMERICAN INNOVATION DRIVES AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

John Hart is director of news services for the American Farm Bureau Federation

Throughout history, a spirit of innovation has characterized the United States of America. From the Lewis and Clark expedition to the space race to the computer age, Americans have always been innovators. And innovation has always found a home on the American farm.

Take a look at a modern combine or tractor, and you will see American innovation at its best. But innovation on the farm doesn?t end there. It can be found in the seeds farmers plant and in the products they use to protect their crops and nurture their livestock. However, the hallmark of American innovation may well be found in agricultural biotechnology.

Thanks to the wonder of biotechnology, more farmers now plant insect-resistant seeds that require far fewer chemical inputs than conventional varieties. Because of the use of biotech seeds, farmers can increase productivity per acre and reduce the need for pesticides. In addition, the adoption of biotechnology has encouraged the use of no-till cultivation, which reduces both herbicide use and greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, biotechnology ensures a more affordable and reliable supply of food and fiber for consumers.

The evidence is clear that biotech crops currently on the market are safe to eat and pose no environmental harm. In testimony in June before a House Agriculture subcommittee reviewing the opportunities and benefits of agricultural biotechnology, Roger Beachy, president emeritus of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Mo., drove home the point that biotech crops are safe.

?Since regulations were first put in place for the products of agricultural biotechnology in 1987, more than 2 billion acres of crops have been grown and harvested in at least 29 countries around the world,? Beachy testified.

?These crops have been grown by 15.4 million farmers, 14.4 million of whom are small, resource-poor farmers in developing countries. The harvests of these crops have been consumed in billions upon billions of meals by humans and livestock around the world for the better part of two decades now. In all this vast experience, we have not a single consequence of a novel, negative consequence for health or the environment?not one.?

Many scientific bodies attest to the safety of biotech crops. Studies by the National Research Council confirm that there has not been a single instance of harm to human health or the environment due to the use of biotech seeds. In Europe, the Joint Research Centre has concluded that biotech products currently on the market in the European Union are safe.

Based on the evidence to date, the benefits of commercialized biotech crops far outweigh the risks. After a thorough and rigorous safety and environmental review, U.S. regulatory agencies have proven that biotech sugar beets and alfalfa are safe for commercialization, yet the use of these valuable products has been challenged in court.

The potential for feeding a hungry world through biotechnology is nearly limitless. Agricultural biotechnology is safe, sustainable and serves consumers by ensuring an abundant food supply. It is time to invigorate America?s innovative spirit by renewing our commitment to agricultural biotechnology, removing the regulatory hurdles that stand in the way and continuing to make consumers aware that biotech crops are not only safe but desperately needed.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   FARMERS REQUIRE TOOLS TO FEED ALL WORLD?S HUNGRY

SOURCE:  The StarPhoenix, Canada

AUTHOR:  Richard Phillips & Lorne Hepworth

URL:     http://www.thestarphoenix.com/business/Farmers+require+tools+feed+world+hungry/5304020/story.html

DATE:    25.08.2011

SUMMARY: "Plant science technologies can help produce enough food to feed the world?s population, but more can be done. Looking at what plant science technologies have already achieved, it?s now important that Canada ask itself what its agricultural future will be. Is it enough to continue to feed the world or do our technologies have the potential to increase the nutritional content in the foods we rely on for good health as well as address nutritional deficiencies in developing countries?"

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FARMERS REQUIRE TOOLS TO FEED ALL WORLD?S HUNGRY

Phillips is the executive director of the Grain Growers of Canada and Hepworth is president of CropLife Canada.

We have seen a number of articles lately about food security, highlighting the rising cost of food and the growing world population. Boom and bust cycles are nothing new in agriculture, but we are now moving to an era where demand appears to outstrip supply and will do so for the foreseeable future.

Somalia serves as an unfortunate reminder that we simply must grow more food.

Farmers are up to the challenge of doing this with the help of plant science technologies. As farmers are out in their fields harvesting, it?s a good time to remember that Canada is on the leading edge of innovative farm practices that help farmers grow more food on less land, using less water.

If farmers didn?t have access to plant science technologies like pesticides and plant biotechnology, Canada would need 37 million more acres of farmland to yield the same amount of production it does today. To put this into perspective, that?s equal to all of the farmed land in Saskatchewan.

As innovations continue to progress, imagine what more we can do.

Research in plant breeding and biotechnology is working toward genetic improvement in seeds, which will give farmers access to seeds that grow better in drought conditions or in excessive water, seeds that can grow in high salinity soils that normally do not support healthy growth, and seeds for crops that can better withstand viral and insect diseases that have the potential to rob farmers of yields and affect the quality of crops.

One of the big benefits of novel seed technology is the advantages to both big and small farmers. Just look at the record of smallholder farmers who?ve adopted biotechnology: 19 of the 29 countries that are now growing biotech crops are developing countries, and 90 per cent of farmers using the technology are smallholder farmers.

The advantage of growing biotech crops means even more to them. It?s a stepping stone to a better life when you consider the economic advantages that come from the increased yields made possible by biotech crops.

If we look at biotechnology in Canada, Canadian farmers chose genetically modified options for approximately 90 per cent of the canola they plant, 85 per cent of the corn, and 65 per cent of soybeans. This is because of the economic advantages these technologies deliver. Increased production generates $7.9 billion worth of additional economic activity annually for farmers of field, vegetable and fruit crops.

With the help of plant science technologies, Canadian farmers produce enough food to meet our country?s needs and supply more than 150 other nations with Canadian crops. They can do this while at the same time protecting the environment by using innovative farm practices, such as conservation tillage.

It used to be that farmers had to till the soil to reduce weeds. But that practice had a less than desirable effect because it produced significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and was bad for soil quality, and for water and soil erosion. Thanks to modern plant science technologies and farming practices, farmers are able to adopt conservation tillage or no-till systems, which means they make fewer passes over the field.

In 2008, 12 billion kilograms of CO2 was prevented from entering the atmosphere thanks to conservation tillage. With results like this, it?s easy to understand why farmers have adopted these tools (about 72 per cent of cropland in Canada is farmed using conservation and no-till practices).

With fewer passes made over the field, less fuel is burned. For every acre of land farmed using conservation tillage, four litres less fuel is used than with conventional tillage practices. Annually, fuel use is reduced by about 171 million litres.

Plant science technologies can help produce enough food to feed the world?s population, but more can be done.

Looking at what plant science technologies have already achieved, it?s now important that Canada ask itself what its agricultural future will be. Is it enough to continue to feed the world or do our technologies have the potential to increase the nutritional content in the foods we rely on for good health as well as address nutritional deficiencies in developing countries?

We believe farmers and the plant science industry can play a pivotal and transforming role in Canada?s agricultural future and around the world.