A long history of improving our food
The history of agriculture is one of frequent, deliberate improvements to the crops we grow, and biotech crops are just one of the latest examples of this. Looking at pictures of the ancestors of common foods like corn or broccoli make it clear that the fruits and vegetables we see in the grocery store today are often much different than they were prior to human intervention.
Better food thanks to improving techniques
Thanks to human innovation, many modern versions of popular crops are easier to grow, more resistant to diseases, healthier and tastier than ever before. The chief advantage of biotechnology is that it enables exact enhancements to our food with greater precision and efficiency than ever before, and that is an advantage worth embracing. Not only that, biotechnology also offers the potential to move genes that deliver beneficial traits from unrelated plant species to commercial crops.
Farmers’ actions speak louder than words
There are now 18 million farmers utilizing biotechnology globally, at least 15 million of whom are small, resource-poor farmers in developing countries. Combined, these farmers are growing nearly 450 million acres of biotech crops across the globe. What’s more, both the number of farmers and the total acreage has steadily increased over the past two decades.
These numbers, as reported by in the ISAAA’s 2014 report on the “Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops”, tell a convincing story – biotech crops have meaningful, tangible benefits. If this was not the case, there is no way that 18 million farmers would have made biotech the fastest adopted crop technology in history.
A spotless record of safety
Despite ongoing public debate, the fact is there have been over three trillion meals containing genetically engineered foods consumed without a single substantiated case of harm. There are more than 2,000 studies evaluating the safety of biotech crops; these studies demonstrate that approved GMOs are as safe as conventionally developed foods.
A selection of the most reputable science and health organizations on the planet speak to the safety of GE crops, including the American Medical Association, The National Academy of Sciences, the European Commission and the World Health Organization. The bottom line is that there is every reason to believe GMOs are just as healthy as conventionally derived food!
An overview of ag-biotech
While there should be no health concerns when it comes to biotech crops, we readily acknowledge they are not a silver bullet solution to the many agricultural challenges around the world today. Agricultural biotechnology is just that – a technology. It’s simply a tool in a diverse toolbox that allows us to improve the food we grow.
Even so, biotechnology is a tool that has enormous potential to help us feed a rapidly growing global population, and as our understanding of plant genomes continues to advance, genetic improvements can be achieved more quickly and efficiently than ever. There’s no shortage of challenges that biotech solutions can help address, such as drought, salinization of water supplies, low yields in certain target crops, viruses, diseases and much more.