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« H-Index in Scopus | Main | NPG launches Two New Websites: Nature Reports Climate Change and Nature Reports Stem Cells »

June 6, 2007

A Farmer's Perspective on Biotechnology

Art Brandli, who farms in Warroad, Minn., recently wrote an opinion piece in Ag Weekly about his impressions while attending the annual BIO conference, which was held in Boston this year. Some snippets from his report...

The BIO Conference was huge, over 20,000 people from 64 countries and the amount of information nearly overwhelming. One quickly learns how much biotechnology is already used in our everyday lives, and how food and production agriculture is just a small part of the biotech industry.

Michael J Fox was a keynote speaker, stressing the need for the biotechnology industry to continue to innovate and accelerate the translation of basic science into improved therapies for patients.

I had an opportunity to meet a number of people committed to working for greater acceptance of biotechnology in agriculture, including Dr. Clive James, an ag scientist from the UK and former deputy director general at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, where he worked with Dr. Norman Borlaug, “Father of the Green Revolution.” James now heads a nonprofit charitable organization whose mission is to alleviate hunger and poverty in developing countries. James cited FAO projections that world food-production needs to double by 2050, using less water and little more land than today, despite climate change, the increasing focus of cropland for biofuels, and the fact that one-third of the world’s population lacks food security now. He stressed that a successful strategy must have multiple approaches that include population stabilization, improved food distribution systems - and a technology component, a crop improvement strategy that integrates conventional and biotech crop approaches to optimize productivity and that can contribute to food, feed, fiber, and fuel security.

One approach in communicating with consumers, James suggests, is not to refer to “biotech” or “genetically-modified” crops, but simply “bio crops.”

Posted by Katie Newman at June 6, 2007 9:58 AM