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Tech Tuesday

Caring Enough to Send our Best

Narrow attitudes about biotechnology are still leading to starvation in parts of the world.

Years ago I was interviewed about my thoughts on biotechnology (I'm for it) and I was quoted as being angry when misinformed leaders of African nations would turn away U.S. food aid for fear it contained GMOs. Well, I'm still angry and they're still turning away food.

Through well-meaning, anti-GMO groups who care more about making their point for a cause (with little scientific support to back them up) than feeding starving children, misinformed leaders are still blocking imports of U.S. food. And it's always curious to me when you get into this debate, whose science do you believe?

We're sending our best products overseas to help those who need it. We've long been the foundation of world food aid. Sure, there are probably better ways to get food into the hands of those that need it, but large shipments of our products don't hurt. Yet, though some misguided, selfish, me-first attitude, key anti-GMO groups keep making their case that we don't know what the future holds. That you could be putting yourselves in danger.

So I want to be clear here - it's OK from a tech standpoint to turn down nutritious food that may have been produced with a highly targeted protein that allows use of enhanced weed control (with a herbicide by the way that has a superb biological profile, short half-life and more) to enhance production efficiency. It's OK to turn back tons of corn and soybeans that may feed people and animals that provide nourishment to the very poorest. I guess that's OK. I don't like it, but to many as long as they make their point.

And that's all done so you can make a stand for some ill-informed cause? Thousands of well-informed scientists are on board with biotechnology use in food. Thousands of scientists agree that this is how we'll help feed 9 billion by 2050. We're in the infancy of this science, but we're testing and regulating this stuff more than ever before (and I'm sure more tests will be added). Yet it's still OK in Europe to bad-mouth the tech and pull it from the mouths of starving children.

I have a few colleagues in Sweden for the annual meeting of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, and they keep having these presentations that continue to show the European view of GMOs, despite hundreds of German, French, English, Italian and Belgian scientists in support of the technology. Well that's science we can apparently ignore.

I'm afraid not. The tech is here to stay. The products work. They're safe. And frankly the gloom and doom espoused by some of the vitriolic anti-biotech websites you can find only lead me to believe there's a different agenda going on here. Frankly, technology is still a key tool.

However, that does bring me to a sticky problem. Thousands of scientists say we're responsible for global warming…I guess I should at least listen. You don't get to pick and choose the science you like.

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