A big year for the future of food just got a lot bigger — maybe somebody ought to tell the protesters. This is the 10th year in which genetically modified food crops have been commercially available to U.S. farmers, but agricultural biotechnology is also reaping miracles half a world away. A study recently published in the journal Science found that Chinese farmers who grew biotech insect-resistant rice had higher crop yields, used less pesticide, and reported fewer pesticide-related health problems. China is expected to approve commercial production of the crop later this year.
How important is this? Very, if you’re a Chinese rice farmer. In the Science study, over 8 percent of farmers growing conventional rice reported getting sick from pesticide use. ” target = “_blank”> “the annual agricultural income of China will increase by $4 billion.” The biotech strain yields 9 percent more rice for every acre cultivated.
This miracle of modern science, along with countless others, will be the focus of this summer’s “BIO 2005” convention in Philadelphia. And true to form, protesters are already planning a variety of organized assaults on science and reason. As the event draws nearer, we’ll give you a run-down of the rogues trying to thwart the future of food.
In a Washington Times book review this weekend, Hoover Institution fellow Henry Miller notes that over 80 percent of the foods on our supermarket shelves contain ingredients from gene-spliced plants, and “Americans have consumed more than a trillion servings of these foods. From the dirt to the dinner plate, not a single ecosystem has been disrupted, or a person injured, by any gene-spliced product.”
Unfortunately, the economic and health benefits of genetically modified food crops in China will bring along with them the agricultural West’s battle with gloomy naysayers. Welcome to the farming revolution, China. Sorry about the pests.