Agriculture's Big Picture
AgWeb Editor Greg Vincent takes a big-picture look at agriculture and current events.
Baffle 'Em With Facts
Nov 06, 2009
On the surface, the Greenpeace quote below is difficult to dispute. Or is it? After all, it’s just conjecture; there are no facts presented that can be proven. Unfortunately, they’re also hard to disprove.
From www.greenpeace.org: “Genetically engineering of the food we eat is an inherently risky process. Scientists do not know the long-term effects of releasing these unpredictable organisms into our environment or our food.”
No other products have been as thoroughly tested and scrutinized as biotech crops. There is no scientific evidence that any approved biotech product has detrimental effects on humans or animals. The dreaded mutant weed has not yet reared its ugly head and taken over farm fields. Nothing the opponents of modern technology predict has actually happened—yet we cannot say for sure it will never happen, no matter how firmly we believe it.
Well, here are some facts that may help: The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says there is a crisis in the making. It may already be here. By the end of this year, FAO says, the number of undernourished people on the planet will reach 1.02 billion. At this century’s midpoint, FAO’s experts predict, we will have another 2.5 billion souls added to the Earth’s population—that’s nearly seven times the current U.S. population. Most of these people will be born into poverty in areas where starvation levels are already at the highest levels.
Additionally, India, China, Brazil and a host of other countries have an increasingly affluent population. With this affluence comes higher protein demand and overall better diets. Here, three squares and a bed is a right. In other parts of the globe, it’s a luxury.
FAO projects that agriculture must produce as much food in the next 40 years as it produced in the past 10,000 years to meet global demand.
So as we sit down to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with our families, let’s reflect on the task ahead for farmers across the world. Keep in mind the role you have to play in feeding the future populace. Take the opportunity to tell your friends and family the real story about what lies ahead for this planet and what you’re doing about it.
There are people who believe we should do away with modern technologies like biotech, eliminate commercial fertilizers and still feed the growing world with the same land base we have today. There always will be such a view. But maybe agriculture can lead the discussion and help people understand that at best, it’s ignorant. At worst, it’s immoral.