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European activists fail to accept GMO science

Friday, March 15, 2013

The failure to adopt biotechnological advances in crop production has significantly curtailed productivity gains in Europe's food production. Everywhere in the world where GMO crops have been grown, significant productivity gains have resulted. Bio-technophobia has not produced anything but stagnant food production productivity. The success of bio-tech crop production where adopted can be measured with stark contrast to regions where governments have banned the applied science.

I have enjoyed Discover Magazine, which writes about science, technology and the future. The cover of the current issue was titled, "Crop Wars -- How Activists Are Halting Genetically Modified Crop Research in Europe." Anti-GMO activists have destroyed private crop research fields so that seed companies have not been able to produce GMO research precedent to production. One of the activists said, "We had to go out into the fields and do it in a very public way, so the population wouldn't see us as criminals. Hundreds of police show up, and it's interesting for the press too."

The criminal act of destroying private property in Europe enjoys some public support. One result is that there were 395 million acres of "biotech crops" in 2011 but only 282,911 of them were in Europe. Discover Magazine wrote, "Even though decades of research haven't turned up any conclusive evidence that genetically modified plants pose a health risk, barely a quarter of Europeans are willing to see them become part of the food supply. Many see no need: The continent's population is expected to peak in just 25 years, and dwindle after that.

But Europe is an exception. The world is fast approaching a breaking point. Already at 7 billion, the global population is expected to increase by 2 billion to 3 billion in the next 40 years before leveling off. With much of the world's prime farmland already under the plow, there's not much wiggle room to feed those extra mouths. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that by 2050, the world will need to produce 70 percent more food, including an additional billion tons of cereals, to keep up with population growth.

"Anti-GMO food activists in the U.S. don't stage late-night guerrilla raids, vandalizing farms swathed in hazmat gear. Instead, they're more likely to patrol the corridors of power in sport jackets, lobbying lawmakers for oversight or suing bio-techs in court.

"An outspoken anti-GMO activist who owns an organic farm and dairy in central Germany, asked whether science would ever be able to prove to him transgenic crops were safe. He said I was missing the point. It's a social question, he told me. What kind of agriculture do we want?"

Ninty-three percent of what is grown in the U.S. is now GMO. The U.S. is also the leader in stacked traits. The real problem with bio technophobia is that after many years, many benefits have been evidenced by adoption of GMO technology but no damage has resulted. Crop bio-technology has to this point been held harmless with no regulatory or science-based evidence of real harm. There are cursory suspicions embellished by those with an unbalanced view, but no science-based evidence exists that anyone on the planet has done more than sneeze over GMOs. The benefits are being counted in reduced impact and higher productivity that shows promise in continuing to feed the world's growing population, which is something plainly Europe has absolutely no interest in.

Here in lies the next problem. Europe's economy is stagnate and bio-technophobia is just one of many such constraints that they gird their economic growth with. The rejection of technological advancement and regulatory suffocation will throttle any economy down. Why would any scientist work in Europe? They are culturally pre-disposed to revisit the dark ages. Just as the anti-GMO activist so transparently put it, the rejection of GMO crops is ideological and not science based.

Trade rules, however, are based upon science, so this is presenting Europe with a problem in the food sector that had them adopt the "precautionary principle, which basically says that the jury on science is always out and can be kept from ever rendering verdicts allowing government to intervene with ideological regulation. The effort being made by the Obama administration to forge an FTA with Europe is made futile because of the "precautionary principle."

The future is in South America, which is a slow but accelerating adopter of GMO crop technology; and in Asia, where the world's greatest growth of an emerging consumer class is hungry for calories and can't afford food bio-technophobia.

Europe will one day look back at how foolish their rejection of applied crop science proved to be. Farmers there would like to grow more bio-tech crops but they are heavily subsided by their government, in part to compensate them for not growing them. Farm subsidies are the largest budget item for the EU. If the cost of food in Europe was applied globally, the billion lives saved by Norman Borlaug and the green revolution would be sacrificed. It appears to also be part of their ideology not to care.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments, Inc. author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet. CommStock Investments is a registered CTA, as well as an introducing brokerage.

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Oh come on David, why would you complain about government subsidies? If it weren't for subsidies in the U.S. the farmers, like your self, wouldn't have an income.Plus, really, your taking information from a magazine owned by Disney?!...really? If I'm not mistaking there is true scientific evidence that proves that GMO's do cause cancers in all lab animals tested...in Europe and in independent studies within the states. Someone needs to explain why so many people now are allergic to glutin?

Let's first understand why it is that a farmer could grow their own crops and their own seed. Why would the farmer want to buy a seed from someone else? I would think the value of crops would rise...isn't that a good thing? That way the tax payers wouldn't have to pay for the product more than once. I am not buying this global population argument at all. Yes, the population is growing but scaring the public to think that GMO's is the only way to feed the world's population is totally wrong and non-factual. You need to read and gather information from accredited independent researchers not a Mickey Mouse company.

We won't get into how GMO's are actually able to get into South America either...this time. It is a bullish way and destructive...no different than GMO companies getting into India. Do some real research please.

-- Posted by Simba on Fri, Mar 15, 2013, at 12:40 PM

Simba, would really like to see your sources that indicate that a GMO has been demonstrated to cause cancer. Mmaybe I could cite my sources that say peanut butter causes cancer (I love peanut butter). The reason that a farmer buys his seed from "someone else" is due to the patent protection that "someone else" has on their GMO invention. They may plant their own non-GMO self grown seed if they want to.

-- Posted by Mechler on Thu, Mar 21, 2013, at 3:31 PM

Simba, on the gluten comment, gluten is made from wheat and other small grains. I may be wrong, but I believe most wheat and small grains is non gmo.

And I believe even non gmo varieties are patent protected.

-- Posted by clayfarmer on Fri, Mar 22, 2013, at 9:11 AM

Hi clayfarmer. Non gmo's cannot have patents. The government will not allow "food" to have patents. Only GMO's can have patents. 90% of harvested crops grown in the U.S. are GMO. So, if farmer X grows organic or true natural wheat and farmer Y grows GMO wheat and farmer Y contaminates farmer X wheat....farmer X cannot sell their crop as organic or sell their crop because it contains a patent protected wheat. As far as gluten....the debate is still not clear.

-- Posted by Simba on Sat, Mar 23, 2013, at 3:38 PM

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