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John Block Reports from Washington

RSS By: John Block, AgWeb.com

John Block has dedicated his professional career to the fields of agriculture, food and health.

Atlantic Salmon

Sep 23, 2010

There is a segment of our population and the population in other developed countries that want to turn back the clock. They choose to ignore and question scientific development at every turn. If we accepted their policies, we would all go back in time to the days of farming with oxen. 

Our willingness as a nation to accept new technology, including hybrid seeds, genetic engineering, large machinery, chemicals for pest and weed control, and many other advances has given us the prosperity that we enjoy today. If modern agriculture had not delivered the bounty that it has, all those critics wouldn’t have time to complain; they would be scavenging to find enough to eat.
 
Environmental groups and consumer organizations now have a new target to attack – a genetically modified Atlantic salmon. Aqua Bounty is the company asking FDA to approve their fish. The ordinary Atlantic salmon is inserted with a gene from a Chinook salmon and a gene from some eel-like species and, like magic the genetically modified fish can grow to market size in 18 months instead of 3 years. Salmon on steroids – sounds like progress to me.
 
When will FDA decide if this is acceptable? We don’t know. It is just another example of science and technology marching on. We are able to feed the world today because we have accepted new technology. An obvious example where genetic engineering has made an enormous impact is in corn and soybean production. Between 1987 and 2007 (that’s 20 years), we have been able to produce 40% more corn and 30% more soybeans on the same amount of crop land.
 
The comfortable, well-to-do critics of scientific farming in developed countries probably would not be so critical if they lived in the poor countries. If they were starving because of global food shortages, maybe then they would welcome modern farming and its bounty.
 
In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to www.johnblockreports.com.
 
Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.
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