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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.

GE Wheat and Smithfield Sale

Jun 07, 2013

Japan and South Korea slammed the door on our wheat exports. Not because they were sent any bad wheat. Not because anyone got sick. Not because there is any risk to anyone. The reason is that we discovered a field of genetically modified wheat in Oregon.

Japan and South Korea have overreacted because there is nothing inherently wrong with GE wheat. If there is anything wrong, it would be that we don’t know how that GE field suddenly appeared in Oregon. Where did that wheat come from? I’m sure that we will eventually sort this out.

Back to the real issue – we have been eating GE crops for almost 20 years. Beyond that – read the Washington Post – "Humans have been genetically altering foodstuffs for millennia. That’s how we got modern wheat." I would add – that’s how we got watermelons without seeds. You know that God didn’t make them that way. It’s time the critics of GE crops got over their suspicion. I am optimistic that the trade interruption with Japan and South Korea will be resolved soon. It’s going to take longer to educate the suspicious public.

Turn the page – new subject. As I ate my delicious Smithfield pork loin for dinner last night, I could imagine the doubters wondering if Smithfield pork next year will be as delicious, or as safe, or as reasonably priced -- because the Chinese are buying Smithfield, by far the biggest pork producer and processor in the U.S. Smithfield operates 460 company farms and 2,100 contract farms in 12 states. If completed, the Chinese purchase of Smithfield will be the biggest Chinese acquisition of a U.S. company costing more than $7 billion.

U.S. foreign investment regulators will probably approve the sale. Why not? How much national security sensitive intelligence can be found in a pork chop? The new Smithfield will still have to meet all of our food safety regulations.

After paying $7 billion, the company under new ownership has every incentive to protect the brand name by producing a quality product. Finally, the more cross border ownership, business, and trade between different countries, the more interdependent we become and the safer the world will be.


 

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