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Study Adverse Effects of Transgenic Cops: Pawar

Marketing Threatens Technology That Could Help Feed the World
July 31, 2008

Growers for Biotechnology recently participated in a forum sponsored by AFACT (American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology).

Several speakers gave presentations that clearly drive home the need for more agriculture productivity from existing lands.  The most impressive message came from Dr. John Fetrow, a professor at the University of Minnesota.  He showed a video that illustrated how global population has increased since the time of the Roman Empire.  As a meter clicked off the passing years, dots of light appeared on a map of the world for each one million people.  For centuries, dots appeared very slowly, primarily
in India and China.  Not until the 1600s were there any dots in the New World.  Then, in the last century dots began to appear rapid-fire. Today, world population increases by 80 million people per year. When the video ended in 2030, the entire globe was lit up to represent 9 billion people, an increase of 50 percent over today's population.  The video is available for purchase at www.populationconnection.org.

The big challenge:  How will we feed those people?  And what catastrophes will occur if there is not enough food to go around? The professor painted a gloomy picture of potential war and upheaval if
people can't find enough food. With grain shortages this year, we may already be seeing how grave the challenge may be.

Against that backdrop, we also learned about the trends that threaten the advancement of technologies that can help feed the world.  These trends are being driven by short-sighted marketers who try to appeal to "green"-minded and largely ignorant consumers.  These companies portray
their food products as natural, organic, free of pesticides, free of synthetic hormones, non-GMO and so forth. These claims may help sell products, but they also create fears that will sidetrack the advancement of technologies that we need NOW.

Most of the members of AFACT are dairy producers concerned about the loss of rBST, which enables them to produce more milk with fewer cows. First one milk company marketed its milk as rBST-free, hoping to make consumers feel their milk was safer than milk from treated cows. Other companies felt they had to follow suit. Today nearly every major dairy has told its producers to stop using the technology.

Could the same thing happen with biotech crops?  It certainly could if companies continue to tout low-yielding organic production as somehow safer and better. It is vitally important that food companies, grocers and restaurateurs understand how their marketing games may have a devastating effect on global population. Farmers need all the tools of today and the future to meet this critical challenge.

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