A Third Way??? Biotechnology and Sustainability…

My contribution to the debate being hosted by The Economist.  [see my blog entry: “This house believes…” http://doccami.posterous.com/this-house-believes-the-economist-facilitates]

“Dear Sir,

Opinions are divided. I would like to refer to a similar debate that the New Yorker hosted online on this topic around this time last year – Can Biotech Cure World Hunger. Opinions were divided amongst experts there as well. However, I was particularly intrigued by the proposal that Johnathon Foley, director of the new Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, put forward. He expounds upon “The Third Way”…

“Currently, there are two paradigms of agriculture being widely promoted: local and organic systems versus globalized and industrialized agriculture. Each has fervent followers and critics. Genuine discourse has broken down: You’re either with Michael Pollan or you’re with Monsanto. But neither of these paradigms, standing alone, can fully meet our needs.”

Foley proposes a “hybrid” of the two: “…take ideas from both sides, [create] new, hybrid solutions that boost production, conserve resources and build a more sustainable and scalable agriculture.”

We need compromise. We need to explore the value, opportunities and gains that can be made through the employment of a variety of production practices including organics, GE, conventional, etc. The more time we spend fighting at the impasse, the less time we can put towards developing viable, practicable solutions – solutions that can benefit everyone.”

CAST YOUR VOTE – GIVE YOUR OPINION! http://www.economist.com/debate/days/view/607/showCommentModule:1





Agricultural biotechnology to 2015: study by OECD

OECD Special Issue: Agricultural and Health Biotechnologies: Building Blocks of the Bioeconomy
Editor: David Sawaya
Volume 2009/3

This document includes a section entitled “Biotechnologies in Agriculture and Related Natural Resources to 2015” by Anthony Arundel and David Sawaya and forecasting of develops in GM crops for the next several years. It identifies the types of biotech products that are already on the market, both in developed and developing countries and estimates the types of new products that could reach the market by 2015. http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/19/36/44534300.pdf

Road Map for Delivering GM Crops to the Third World?

A Search for Regulators and a Road Map to Deliver GM Crops to Third World Farmers
March 31, 2010

The New York Times
by Gayathri Vaidyanathan of ClimateWire

“In the transgenic crop fight, the foot soldiers on either side have been dug in for years. But despite the doubts about the necessity of GM, farmers have been voting with their seeds.”


Key points in article:

Now and what is to come:

* transgenic crop acreage is increasing with developing nations and small farming ops being the newest adopters (up 7% over the last year according to the ISAAA)
* European Commission predicts that by 2015 there will be 120 commercial crops grown worldwide (currently there are 30)
* ~ 90% of 14 million farmers worldwide that use GM are ‘resource
poor’ farmers


* As many as 100 developing countries lack tech and management capacity to review tests and monitor compliance of GMs

“Biosafety regulations of countries are usually modeled after the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, an international agreement that promotes a “precautionary approach.” It says that GM crops can be adopted if they are of minimal risk to the environment and human health. It lays out a clear set of guidelines to test for that risk. But guidelines alone don’t suffice.”


Facts about biotech…

Did you know?

…In 2007, the reduction in carbon emissions accomplished from adopting biotech canola in Canada alone was equal to removing 781,000 cars from the road for a year?! Global savings from all biotech crops equalled removing 6.3 million cars!

Yeah, but how does this compute?

Farmers that grow biotech crops are not only able to adopt conservation tillage practices, but they are also able to produce higher yields (good for them) with FEWER applications of crop protection products (good for the environment). Reduced applications means reduced number of passes with equipment and lower emissions!

(Thanks to the Council for Biotechnology Information (2009) for compiling this useful information!)