Submitted to: Washington Times
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: November 9, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The Washington Times reported Oct. 28 ("Food output is slowing") that a significant part of the world population is undernourished. This is caused by several factors, but clearly, increased growth in crop production is needed to keep pace with increased demand, particularly in the developing world. The U.S. has long been a leader in crop production and crop improvement. The first of these crops resulting from modern biotechnologies, including gene transfers have made their appearance in the marketplace in just the past few years. These technologies offer tremendous promise in improving the supply, afford ability and quality of food in developing countries and at home. Unfortunately, an interest group, is seeking a boycott of crops that were improved using modern technologies. Both traditional plant breeding and newer genetic transformation biotechnologies change the genetic makeup of plants. In assessing either, informed concern and caution are called for, and these, not blind fear, should be the principles underlying acceptance of new crops. Several federal agencies have stringent regulations that ensure the nutritional and environmental safety of engineered plants, and crop developers have taken these seriously. Indeed, these regulations ensure that the safety of engineered crops is much more carefully scrutinized than conventionally developed crops. A danger of turning back the clock and shunning the vast potentiality of biotechnology in agriculture is that this could run out the clock on many already undernourished people in the developing world. Turning away from modern technologies also would place unnecessary limits on the U.S. agricultural industry in meeting the nutritional needs of our nation.