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Ag biotech: critical to global sustainability


Ag biotech: critical to global sustainability
Long held as a symbol of large-scale corporate farming in North America, agricultural biotechnology is now common in large and small countries, and is being touted as a valuable component of sustainable agriculture, according to this editorial.

December 3, 2008  By Delta Farm Press/Crop News Weekly

Agricultural biotechnology is making substantial footholds in small and large countries worldwide and must remain a part of sustainable agriculture so farmers and consumers can reap the benefits.

Sharon Bomer-Lauritsen, executive vice president, food and agriculture section, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Washington, D.C., says U.S. farmers grow biotech crops on about 300 million acres —about 48 percent of the harvested crop acreage.

“Biotechnology has saved the fruit and vegetable industry from destruction,” said Bomer-Lauritsen. She spoke about ag biotech’s virtues and challenges during the California Association of Pest Control Advisers conference in Anaheim, Calif.


BIO represents more than 1100 biotech companies, academic institutions, and related organizations in the United States and 31 other nations in the research and development of health care, agricultural, industrial, and environmental biotechnology products.

In U.S. agriculture, biotechnology is utilized in 86 percent of cotton, 92 percent of soybeans, and 80 percent of corn, Bomer-Lauritsen says. Corn yields have increased by 30 percent and soybean yields have climbed 17 percent over the last decade due to biotech and practices incorporated by farmers. Similar trends are expected to continue.

Sustainability is becoming the buzzword among public opinion leaders worldwide. According to the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, sustainable agriculture includes three main goals: economic productivity, environmental health, and social and economic equity. Its success, Bomer-Lauritsen says, must include technologies including biotech.

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