Dysfunctional food system must change
2.American Soybean Association Calls for Broader Acceptance of Crop Biotechnology to Ease Food Crisis
NOTE: Item 1 is a response to the NFU's recent lobbying for the GM industry.
Item 2 is more lobbying for GMOs courtesy of the American Soybean Association. ASA claims to be 'a non-profit, farmer-controlled organisation' but it enjoys a remarkably close relationship with Monsanto and other biotech corporations and is known to have received approaching 10% of its budget from Monsanto, Pioneer Hi-Bred, BASF, and others.
1. DYSFUNCTIONAL FOOD SYSTEM MUST CHANGE
Financial Times, 11 June
Letter to the editor from Lawrence Woodward.
Sir, The calls for retailers to allow poultry to be fed with genetically modified soya ("Farmers demand U-turn on GM feed ban", June 6) miss the critical point that our food system and our expectations of it are going to have to change far more radically than a narrow focus on GM implies.
Our finite and diminishing natural resources - whether soil, water, energy or climate - are under such pressure that we need to think again. Cheap poultry products have relied on cheap soya protein for the fast and high productivity that can be achieved only in ethically questionable production systems. Soil erosion, water shortages and pressure on energy supply for agro-chemicals and transportation will mean a fundamental change in the balance of inputs to output. GM technology will not alter this, even if the so far over-hyped and unproven claims for the technology come true.
Our efforts need to be focused on developing production systems that are ethically and environmentally sustainable, based as far as possible on local resources. For poultry this means less intensive production, with more reliance on home-grown protein and other foodstuffs.
Food security, self-sufficiency and value for money rather than a spurious notion of cheapness will be important for the future. We should concentrate on developing a food system based on those and not seek to cling to a dysfunctional system by relying on a dysfunctional technology.
The Organic Research Centre
Newbury, Berks RG17 8NG, UK
2. American Soybean Association Calls for Broader Acceptance of Crop Biotechnology to Ease Food Crisis
Press release, June 11 2008
St. Louis, MO””The American Soybean Association (ASA) met with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Members of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee June 11 to discuss rising food prices and what can be done to increase crop production around the world.
ASA defended the use of soybean oil for biodiesel production, and outlined the critical importance of crop biotechnology in meeting the world's growing demand for food, feed and fuel.
"The primary reasons for the recent rise in food prices are the sharp increase in energy costs, growing demand for higher quality diets in developing countries, and production shortfalls in several countries," said ASA President John Hoffman, a soybean producer from Waterloo, IA.
"While estimates of the role of biofuels in higher food prices vary from very small to moderate, there is agreement that these other factors have played a much larger role. Soy-based biodiesel’s share of this already-low number is extremely small."
Biodiesel production uses only the oil component of the soybean, so increased domestic processing of soybeans to get the soybean oil actually increases the supply of protein-rich soybean meal available to the animal feed industry, as well as the food industry.
Since a soybean is about 20 percent oil and 80 percent protein, the benefits of increased soybean meal supplies on the domestic market are significant.
Hoffman also urged Congress to appropriate Federal funding for agricultural research, and promote global acceptance of crop biotechnology.
"One of the key solutions to curtail rising food prices, in the U.S. and around the world, is to accelerate production of crops enhanced through biotechnology," Hoffman said.
"Biotechnology and other modern crop breeding methods offer the potential to dramatically increase yields over coming decades while reducing the amount of resources required to grow these crops."
Funding for research on biotech crops is almost exclusively done by the private sector.
The Senate version of the supplemental appropriations bill for FY-2008 provides $900 million for science research at various agencies, but no funding for agricultural research.
"In order to accelerate the development and commercialization of biotech-enhanced crops, Congress should make a priority of targeting public funding for research that can raise food production," Hoffman said.
"Yield increases, facilitated by biotechnology and other modern plant breeding methods, will provide U.S. soybean farmers with the seedstock we need to meet the world’s growing demands for food, feed and fuel."
Another priority for reducing global food prices is to help developing countries adopt commercial production of biotech crops.
"Much of the focus of the recent World Food Security Conference was on significantly increasing food aid and helping subsistence farmers in the poorest countries survive," Hoffman stated.
"Biotechnology can help produce crops resistant to drought, salinity, and other conditions that negatively affect yields in developing countries."
One of the obstacles facing these countries is the refusal of the European Union to accept food imports with biotech traits from developing countries.
"It is time for Members of Congress to press their counterparts in the European Parliament to accept the importance of biotechnology in helping to address the world food crisis by greatly improving the timeliness of the EU approval system, and by allowing for the low-level presence of genetic events that have been fully approved by an exporting country, but that haven’t yet received clearance in the EU's slow approval system," Hoffman said.
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