YES ON TECHNO GIZMOS; NO ON TECHNO FOOD—A COMMENTARY
November 19, 2013
We love our smartphones, but what about smart food?
TODAY, Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, elaborated on this question. He made the following [abridged] comments:
Our society and economy run, function and communicate via technology. Technology is changing the way we do just about everything, and by all accounts we can’t get enough of it. Until we start talking about food technology, often referred to as biotechnology, and then our mindsets revert to the Dark Ages.
For years, farmers and ranchers have used technology to produce more food, feed, fiber and fuel, while using less acreage, chemicals and water. Now, facing quite possibly the biggest challenge of our generation—to produce 100 percent more food by 2050—we need technology. In fact, in doubling the amount of food grown in the next 37 years, 70 percent of that additional food will have to come from efficiency-enhancing technologies that will compensate for one of the few things technology can’t produce: farm and ranch land.
Through advancements in science and technology, agriculture production has made tremendous strides. Today, many crops in the U.S. are adopted from a biotech variety. Yet, there has not been a single documented, statistically significant incident of harm to human health or to the environment.
Due to the stellar performance of biotechnology products, the U.S. government, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and the National Academy of Sciences have all embraced the safety and benefits of these critical advancements.
To those who continue to be skeptical of biotechnology, please consider this: every choice you and I make involves risk. Waking up, eating breakfast, taking a shower, driving to work or even walking on the sidewalk has its hazards. And what about your new smartphone? There are risks associated with that, too. The reality is that we accept that technology can help mitigate these risks to the benefit of all society.
Why are we still in the Dark Ages in our approach to food technology, but we’re giddy over the release of the iPhone 5s? With a partner in technology, farmers and ranchers are prepared to meet the food, fuel and fiber demands of the 21st century, but there, too, is a risk: the minority who contradict their own acceptance of technology could ultimately eliminate food options for those who would take a meal over the latest iPhone any day.