She Blinded Me With Science: What We’re Reading, May 2017

Each month, GMO Answers compiles a few stories we think particularly noteworthy. Science is everywhere, and that was especially true in the stories that caught our eye this past April. So go with the flow, lose control, feel the power, fight your resistance, be a catalyst, start a reaction, keep an ion the ball, and join us in finding out the latest in the world of science and GMOs in this month’s What We’re Reading post:

To learn more about the science of GMOs, agriculture, and plants, please visit the GMO Answers website.

Filed under: Farmer Gene, Food And Agriculture, , , , , , , , , , ,

In Boulder County, What if Farmers were in Charge of Farm Policy?

Over the past five months, Boulder County community columnist Mara Abbott has researched the local, national and international debate over GMOs in agriculture and interviewed 14 key local players to produce a five-part series in the Daily Camera on Boulder County’s decision to ban GMOs on county-owned agricultural land, covering facets ranging from the scientific merits to the impacts to farmers and the economy. Today we’re highlighting the fifth and final part of her story – what would happen if farmers were in charge of farm policy.

Highlights include:

“When you don’t really deal with a farmer day-in and day-out, you don’t really understand the system very well, and if you don’t understand the system you are vulnerable to all sorts of nonsense, because where are you getting your food knowledge?”

In Boulder, that lack of understanding helped create the GMO ban. As Abbott notes:

“I also can’t help but imagine the outcome if the collective effort and resources devoted to the GMO debate were instead put into innovating solutions to add a diverse toolbox for all county farmers, rather than demonizing and banning “taboo” practices that nearly three dozen members of the CU molecular biology department wrote last year advance our sustainability goals.”

To read her series from the beginning, click HERE.

Obama talks GMOs at Global Conference

Last week, President Barack Obama discussed food and climate change at Seeds and Chips Global Food Innovation Summit in Milan, Italy, joined by his former White House chef Sam Kass. The former president discussed his views on GMOs more extensively than he has in the past.

Kass described gene-editing as “the emerging technology with the biggest potential to transform what we eat,” noting that it’s “cheap and it’s easy.”

When asked for his views on these emerging technologies, Obama described the sensitivities that people often have around food.

“Because food is so close to us and is part of our family and is part of what we do every single day, people, I think, are more resistant to the idea of government or bureaucrats telling them what to eat, how to eat and how to grow,” he said.

Hear the conversation  on food and ag innovation at 2:13:19.

“This debate around genetically modified foods is, I know, a very controversial one,” Obama said. “The approach that I took when I was President of the United States is in the same way that I would let the science determine my policies around climate change. I try to let the science determine my attitudes about food production and new technologies.”

The former president noted the importance of agricultural innovation, making it clear that, while caution and prudence are acceptable, basing our decisions on science is essential.

“The truth is, humanity has always engaged in genetic modifications. The rice we eat or the corn we eat or the wheat we eat does not look like what corn or wheat or rice looked like 1,000 years ago. And that’s because humanity continually learned from experience… and we started realizing that we could not just discover things by accident, but actaully put in place systems of discovery.”

The former president continually focused on the importance of using facts and science to make our determinations on GMOs.

“I worry a little bit that somehow, sometimes the conversation has just gotten cut off, as opposed to, ‘Let’s see what the facts are.’”

While Obama did not give us an idea of how involved he’ll be in food advocacy moving forward, one thing is for sure – biotechnology is on the main stage and will continue to play an increasingly important role in food production.

Convention Programming to Feature “One Health” Concept

Bio-based Technologies Address Human, Animal, Plant and Environmental Health

At its heart, the concept of One Health is rooted in the notion that the health of humans, animals, and the environment are all interconnected. At BIO’s 2017 International Convention (June 19-22 in San Diego), programming will feature the One Health concept through stories that show how science and technology are making tomorrow’s breakthroughs possible.

On Monday, June 19, BIO will host “One Health Day,” bringing together different parts of the BIO family with sessions focused on issues linking human, animal and environmental health. Scheduled speakers include:

Keynote:  One Health for the 21st Century

  • Dr. William Karesh, Executive Vice President for Health and Policy at EcoHealth Alliance

“The very concept of ‘One Health’ is ancient,” says Dr. William Karesh, Executive Vice President for Health and Policy at EcoHealth Alliance. “But our world has changed dramatically, and what’s really exciting is that with 21st Century innovation we have the opportunity to begin to end the pandemic era.”

Human, Animal and Plant Health Connectedness – Industry’s Role:

  • Dr. Carsten Brunn, Bayer’s Head of Pharmaceuticals, Americas Region
  • Frank Terhorst, Bayer’s Global Head of Seeds

“With emerging issues like a rapidly aging population and new and increasingly complex medical needs, our industry is at the forefront of advancements in science and technology that will help cure and prevent some of the most difficult-to-treat conditions, and improve lives,” said Dr. Carsten Brunn, Bayer’s Head of Pharmaceuticals, Americas Region. “With Bayer’s focus across the life science ecosystem, we are actively working to discover and develop innovations that impact the health of people, animals, and plants.”

“As the world’s population is projected to increase by more than three billion people in the next thirty years, we will require an adequate supply of healthy food as well as improved medical care,” stated Frank Terhorst, global head of seeds at Bayer CropScience. “Our research and development activities, fundamental to the well-being of society, are therefore linked by the concept of ‘One Health,’ with the goal of finding solutions to some of the major challenges of our time.”

Panel Discussion:  How to Move “One Health” Forward

  • Dr. Eddie Sullivan, CEO, SAB Biotherapeutics and Chairman, BIO Food & Ag Section Governing Board (moderator)
  • Dr. Laura Kahn, Research Scholar, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University and Co-Founder, One Health Initiative
  • Dr. Nikos Gurfield, Adjunct Professor of Pathology, UC San Diego and County Veterinarian, San Diego County Vector Disease and Diagnostic Laboratory
  • Dr. William Karesh, Executive Vice President for Health and Policy at EcoHealth Alliance

“Science and technology hold the promise of securing a healthier world for humans, animals and the environment,” says Dr. Eddie Sullivan, CEO, SAB Biotherapeutics and Chairman, BIO Food & Ag Section Governing Board. “To make these breakthroughs a reality, we’ll need a collaborative approach for addressing existing political and economic obstacles and opportunities.”

In our speaker presentations and panel discussions, attendees will hear stories that illustrate the concept of “One Health” and how modern technologies are enabling us to solve global challenges through a collaborative One Health-focused approach. Panelists will also explore the barriers to success and what industry and others can do to solve the problems One Health is poised to address.

BIO 2017 International Convention (BIO 2017) is in San Diego June 19-22 and registration is now open! Check out the complete BIO 2017 program including Keynotes, Super Sessions, Educational Tracks and Fireside Chats with scientific experts, government leaders and leading biotech CEOs. And stay tuned for more updates as we approach BIO 2017!

Filed under: Food And Agriculture, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Our World’s Farmers Favor Biotech Crops

Millions of farmers around the world continue to choose genetically modified (GM) crop varieties because of their environmental and socio-economic benefits and the important role they play in addressing food security, according to a study released today.

The report, Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2016, produced annually by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), says 18 million farmers in 26 countries grew biotech crops on 185.1 million hectares (457 million acres) in 2016.

“The United Nations warns that our food supply must double by 2050 to meet the world’s expected population growth to 9 billion people,” said BIO President & CEO Jim Greenwood in a statement. “GM crops produce bigger yields on less land and help farmers and growers mitigate the environmental challenges of climate change.”

The report shows a 110-fold increase in adoption rate of GM globally in just 21 years of commercialization, proving biotechnology to be the fastest adopted crop technology in the world.  Adoption has grown from 1.7 million hectares (4.2 million acres) in 1996 to 185.1 million hectares (457 million acres) in 2016.

“Biotechnology also provides societal benefits to the 18 million farmers who plant GMO crops – especially to the 90 percent who farm in developing countries,” said Greenwood. “The report shows how biotechnology has helped alleviate hunger by increasing incomes for small farmers and their families, bringing improved financial stability to more than 65 million people.”

Quantifying the environmental benefits of biotechnology, the ISAAA report explains how the adoption of biotech crops has reduced CO2 emissions equal to removing approximately 12 million cars from the road annually; conserved biodiversity by removing 19.4 million hectares of land from agriculture production in 2015; and decreased the environmental impact with a 19 percent reduction in herbicide and insecticide use.

Among the report’s additional highlights:

  • In 2016, 26 countries in total, including 19 developing and 7 industrial countries, grew biotech crops. Developing countries grew 54 percent of biotech crops, compared to 46 percent for industrial nations. 
  • In 2016, the leading countries growing biotech crops continued to be represented by the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and India. Combined, these five countries planted 91 percent of the global biotech crop area. 
  • Eight countries in Asia and the Pacific, including China and India, grew 18.6 million hectare of biotech crops in 2016; 7.2 million farmers in India grow biotech cotton.
  • Four countries in Europe (Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Slovakia) grew more than 136,000 hectares of biotech maize in 2016, an increase of 17 percent from 2015, reflecting EU’s need for insect resistant maize.
  • Biotech crops have generated $167.8 billion in farm income gains since 1996.
  • Newly commercialized biotech crops and traits – such as non-bruising and non-browning apples and potatoes – directly benefit consumers.


*The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) report, Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2016 and accompanying materials are posted at

#AgDay 2017: Appreciating the Value of Biotech

Today is National Ag Day, a time when producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America gather to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by American agriculture! National Ag Day falls during National Ag Week, March 19-25, 2017!

Agriculture plays a large role in our everyday lives. It provides food, clothing, and shelter as well as jobs. In fact, in 2014, 17.3 million full- and part-time jobs were related to agriculture – that’s around 10% of total U.S. employment!

Unfortunately, few truly understand its contribution to our lives and the economy.  Even fewer understand the contribution of agriculture biotechnology. Did you know that the annual global hectarage of biotech crops was 179.7 million hectares in 2015 and continues to grow? They are the fastest adopted crop technology in modern history, especially among farmers in developing countries.

Genetic modification (GM) technology has had a significant positive impact on farm income. Since 1996, farm incomes have increased by $150.3 billion.

Farmers select GMOs to reduce yield loss or crop damage from weeds, diseases, and insects, as well as from extreme weather conditions, such as drought.

GM technology adoption has also reduced chemical pesticide use by 37% and significantly reduce tillage.

In 2014, biotech crops removed 22.4 billion kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere which is equal to removing 10 million cars from the road for one year.

To learn more about the value of agriculture and biotech crops, visit these resources: