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GMO Vs. Organic - Which Will Feed the World? - 23 April 2013

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TheCropSite
Tuesday 23rd April 2013.
Sarah Mikesell - TheCropSite Senior Editor

Sarah Mikesell
Senior Editor


5M

GMO Vs. Organic - Which Will Feed the World?

School closed due to snow – been there, done that (many times). School closed due to heat – unusual, but that’s happened. School closed due to rain – huh?? Yes, last Thursday and Friday our local schools were closed due to high water, which was a first for me.

We had about four inches of rain in the Chicago area in less than 48 hours. While that may not sound like a huge amount of rain, it came on top of already saturated soil. Needless to say, my 10-year-old twins were delighted to have a few “free” days off school (it hasn’t hit them they’ll be making them up in June along with a snow day).

On Monday, I attended the BIO International Convention which offers everything you ever wanted to know about biotechnology and covers well beyond food and agriculture, diving into human health/medicine, biobased chemicals, manufacturing, etc. At BIO, I attended an event called Food Dialogues: Chicago sponsored by US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA).

The meeting was designed to answer American’s questions on some of today’s most provocative issues surrounding food and agriculture. The six-person panel discussion was respectful, but clearly disagreed over the use of biotechnology in the US crops.

Melinda Hemmelgarn, registered dietician and radio host of Food Slueth, spoke of the need for independent research and the lack of data related to GM crops. She also expressed concern about monocrops (corn and soybeans) in the Midwest and the “unintended consequences” of GM crops, noting we aren’t asking enough questions about the long-term effects of biotech. She cited statistics like the 18 per cent increase in childhood allergies in the US since 1992 which she believes could be linked to GMOs.

Dr. Bob Goldberg, molecular biologist and professor at UCLA, disputed Hemmelgarns assessment of biotech crops, noting he’d never heard so much “non-scientific nonsense”. He noted that globally, we have to produce more food in the next 30-40 years than in the history of mankind.

“We have some very serious agricultural issues and they must be addressed by the best technology that exists,” Goldberg said. “Every serious scientific organization in the world has deemed the use of biotech safe for human consumption.”

He also countered Hemmelgarn’s “unintended consequences” concern noting that GMOs are incredibly precise, safe and highly predictable. He said we have a safe food supply because good science has led us there.

The dialogue was interesting and important, but it was a wealthy country’s view of the world – organic vs. non-organic… There are people in the world that don’t have anything to eat. As in, nothing. People exist in a starving state. I don’t have any idea what that feels like. If I’m hungry, like most of you, I go to the fridge or the pantry or McDonald’s or Starbucks and get whatever I want.

We are in a growing world and we have to find solutions. And I believe technology and good science can help find the answers.

Have a great week!


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   Mexico

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