Not all of the crazies were conservatives in Washington last week. There were a lot of liberal crazies in Des Moines, protesting the award of the World Food Prize to three biotech scientists – Marc Van Montagu, Mary-Dell Chilton and Robert Fraley.
Fraley is likely the best known as the chief technology officer of Monsanto, often referred to as the father of GMO seed technology.
One common trait of both conservatives and liberals is that they reject science substituting ideology. It is a great irony that a majority of conservative members of the House Science Committee are there to see to it that a science-based conclusion on many issues, such as global warming, are not adopted by the committee.
The liberals protesting the World Food Conference reject biotechnology as a science, preferring ignorance. The irony here is the World Food Prize founder, the late Dr. Norman Borlaug, was credited with saving a billion people with the founding science behind the green revolution, that liberal foodies protesting the conference reject as unsustainable.
The protesters have a flat world kind of mentality. Borlaug was quoted as saying, “Perhaps the most pernicious myth of all is that organic production is better, either for people or for the environment.”
Borlaug embraced biotechnology and GMO seed technology as a more sophisticated efficient way to achieve the trait improvement in crops that he achieved with traditional plant breeding.
He saw no inconsistent difference in the science of genetic modification with cross breeding or with new techniques to enhance genetics with valuable traits he saw as innovation.
GMO opposition is mostly ideology based upon ignorance. For example, consumers polled were asked if they approved of DNA in their food and 30 percent said they opposed eating anything with DNA in it.
That shows the lack of basic scientific acumen that is behind much of the resistance to GMOs. They don’t understand genetics or the science so there is a natural response to oppose what is seen as something different or change.
The Federal government has thoroughly tested GMO food and found nothing risk worthy, but neither conservatives nor liberals trust the Federal government, another common sentiment that they share.
It is the mission of agriculture to provide the most bountiful, low-cost food stuffs possible for the least demands on consumer disposable income so that human society has the resources to advance its culture, science and arts.
Europe has caused more hunger and suffering worldwide by its rejection of biotechnology that the more enlightened food producers have to overcome.
The chief scientific adviser to the EU President, Anne Glover, told a conference of leading European soil scientists that opposition to GMOs “was a form of madness” adding that “there is not a single piece of credible scientific evidence that food containing GMOs is unsafe.”
The only science that biotech opposition is derived from is social science.
“Part of the problem,” she said, is, “public perception and the fact that the small minority of scientists who speak out against GMOs get the same credence in the media as the vast majority of scientists who support GMOs.”
Des Moines Food Prize critics charge that biotechnology threatens the family farm. If the family farm is thought of as some kind of throwback to the past where hoeing weeds or even mechanically cultivating crops is deemed as sustainable, then I suppose the family farm is threatened by biotechnology.
I have been surprised by the resistance to biotechnology by the organic industry. Genes are organic and many express traits that produce natural resistance to crop pests.
One would think that GMOs would be embraced by organic producers, but that would be a science-based assumption. They practice more ideology than science in their food production system essentially using the public ignorance of biotechnology as seed to grow opposition to it for commercial gain.
Borlaug said that both systems have assets that should be used and we do in our operation.
Manure is our primary fertilizer, as organic as you can get, with all seed having GMO traits that reduce the pesticide load necessary to grow crops.
I saw the yield monitor hit 300 bpa for the first time ever this year, so I can attest that it is working. I think that the anti-biotech crowds are a bunch of hypocrites for blasting biotechnology as just greedy corporations out to make a buck when what they are really doing is creating doubt in a sound food production system to dupe customers into paying them twice as much for organic food.
It is a ruse. There is no more benefit from organic food production to society than the conservative effort shutting down the Federal government produced this month.
Congratulations to the World Food Prize recipients and thank you for your contribution to improving the standard of living of the world with your accomplishments.
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.
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