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Friday, December 13, 2013

Honest science

by Pete Crow - Publisher

Every industry has its activists, both pro and con. Last week, while watching the evening news, an ad about American farmers popped up. The ad was very well done and told consumers essentially who feeds them and the importance of respecting the farming community for doing such a good job of feeding the world. The ad ended by sending viewers to Americanfarmer.com for more information. This was a very positive message that I hope will resonate with folks. It certainly got my attention.

This is just the kind of message that agriculture needs. We need more people to realize where their food comes from, and who is producing it, and ultimately, that farmers are good people. A positive message like this will also help agriculture overcome much of the misinformation that has been disseminated by radical groups.

Monsanto Corporation is behind the ads, but they didn’t mention anything about Monsanto’s business, or that they are the global leader in plant science and genetically modified seed. Monsanto, along with many other large companies, have taken the sustainability issue to heart and are starting to show the world what GMO crops have done over the past 30 years. Monsanto has been a controversial company with many environmentalists and organic farming groups who constantly attack just about any new development in agriculture.

But we can’t deny the facts—we’re producing more food using less land and water, with fewer pesticides and herbicides. I can’t see how producing more with less inputs can be a bad thing.

Ironically, without agriculture, this society has nothing. We’ve heard all the news that we need to double our food production by 2050 to feed an additional two billion people. We all know that science and technology are the right tools to get this job done. Agriculture has done an excellent job implementing new technology. But can the technology go too far?

Monsanto seems to be the evil whipping boy for activist groups fighting “Big Ag.” They have been a high-profile company that has developed GMO crops, rBST in milk production and Roundup herbicide. They have been called out on just about every technology they have put on the market. And they have defended it all the way.

For some, this has a big creepy element to it that guys in lab coats are sitting in their laboratory creating products that are not real food. The GMO debate is global and the use of GMO seed has its place in production agriculture.

I don’t know what Monsanto’s corporate culture is. I do know that they are aggressive and will protect their patent rights to the end. Their business is highly political and they know how to work in the government. And government is perhaps their biggest problem. Many parts of the world will not allow them to sell or produce GMO seed or crops. Several states have been trying to pass GMO labeling laws, which have failed, once consumers find out the real story about GMOs.

Some of these groups fighting the GMO crops are vocal and passionate about their cause. Just Google GMO and see what pops up. It’s overwhelming; the volume of bad information that is circulated on the internet. And the real surprising part is the scientific information they refer to, which is weak and emotional at best.

It seems that with the organic farming crowd, there is no middle ground. It’s organic or we’re going to doom ourselves with modern production agriculture. Many in the organic crowd claim that we can feed the world with organic farming methods, they also turn back climate change and make food production more resilient to droughts and floods. So there is a real ideological mindset with these folks. One thing I do know is that, generally, once a new technology has been introduced in agriculture, it seldom goes away.

I would like to thank Monsanto for running these ads and hope they keep it up. We need a positive message about farming in our society and this is also how to change the media and get positive public opinion, which helps to determine government policy.

Companies like Monsanto are leading the charge on being proactive, instead of reactive. It’s time to follow their lead. — PETE CROW

 
 


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