The Truth about Trade
Dean is Chairman Emeritus of 'Truth About Trade & Technology, a nonprofit advocacy group led by a volunteer board of American farmers.
Editor's Note: We are saddened to hear of Dean Kleckner’s passing and extend our sympathies to his family and friends. The AgWeb staff is grateful to have had the chance to work with him.
Truth About Trade & Technology's Greatest Hits
Jun 23, 2011
By Mary Boote
You might assume farmers know more about rootworms than bookworms, but that’s not necessarily true. It certainly hasn’t stopped the men and women of Truth about Trade & Technology from publishing “The Food Security Reader.”
It’s our new book, whose full title is “The Food Security Reader: The Best of Truth about Trade & Technology.”
Readers of this column may know that we’ve been writing these pieces every week for over a decade. It turns out that a few of them hold up pretty well. So we’ve gathered the finest in a new anthology, which is hot off the press.
If we were a rock band, this would be our album of “greatest hits.”
Our ‘day job’ involves growing the food the world needs – using less of our resources to grow more. When we aren’t planting, harvesting, or worrying about rainfall, we devote ourselves to Truth about Trade & Technology and its mission: giving farmers a voice in public debates about free trade and the importance of access to technology in agriculture.
We believe farmers should enjoy the right to sell what they grow to consumers around the world. For every three rows of corn grown in the United States, one is shipped abroad. Our livelihoods--and the American economy--depend on these exports. Trade allows us to get food where it is needed.
One of our columns, by Chairman Dean Kleckner, is headlined “Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-Bahrain.” (Yes…you can hum it to the tune of “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys.) It’s about the economic and security reasons for a free-trade agreement with a Middle Eastern nation. “Bahrain may be a tiny country, but by helping us create jobs at home and spread freedom around the planet, it’s also an important part of a grand strategy,” wrote Kleckner.
As you can see, we tackle the issues of the day and try to do it in a way that’s both entertaining and informative.
When we aren’t discussing the politics of trade, it’s the politics of what we eat. We believe farmers everywhere, in developed and developing countries, should have access to the most effective tools they need for growing crops and producing food. That means governments should base their regulations on science-based methods - not fear.
In 2009, the popular U.S. TV show “CSI: Miami” attacked corn farmers and biotechnology out of sheer scientific ignorance. Iowa farmer and TATT Board member Tim Burrack fired back in a rapid-response column: “The result was worse than bad television. It was malicious propaganda based on distortions and lies about the common practices of modern agriculture. Call it ‘un-reality TV,’” he wrote. “There’s only one way to say it: ‘CSI: Miami’ puts the ‘BS’ in CBS.”
“The Food Security Reader” covers a lot of ground in 440 pages. Our 23 contributors discuss mad-cow disease, biofuels, and even the FarmVille fad on Facebook. The range of topics is impressive.
Some of the best columns come from our network of global farmers. Rajesh Kumar of India pleads for access to biotechnology: “Farmers have the ability to take a big step forward with biotechnology--but only if the government in New Delhi will allow us to do so. If it doesn’t let us grow biotech eggplants, it may not permit us to grow any of the biotech crops that my country needs.”
Sadly, Kumar and a billion of his countrymen are still waiting for this opportunity, about a year and a half since this column appeared.
“The Food Security Reader” is dedicated to the late Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution and an inspiration to everyone who farms. For his pioneering efforts to improve food production, Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize.
We don’t expect “The Food Security Reader” to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, but we do hope that it will help Truth about Trade & Technology follow in Borlaug’s footsteps as we confront the 21st century’s great challenge of feeding the world. Dr. Borlaug believed in a farmer’s ability to accomplish great things when given the right tools. It’s our hope that the farmer’s voices encapsulated in this book will support his vision and explain why trade and technology are necessary if we have any hope of achieving food security and environmental sustainability on our crowded and hungry planet.
Copies are available right now at Amazon or on the TATT website. Be the first in your town to own one! And while you’re at it, why not consider purchasing a copy for a friend and your local library.