Category Archives: Ag Biosecurity

The Need for Food Biotechnology

Terry D. Etherton

The public discussion about the need for adequate food is a luxury that well-fed people in developed countries can afford.  But in developing countries where the population is growing while the supply of farmland shrinks, people are grappling with a much thornier and higher-stakes dilemma.  Unless they can grow more food on less land, they may not have enough to eat.  The scale of this is already daunting – more than 1 billion individuals in the world go to bed each night hungry. Continue reading The Need for Food Biotechnology

Biotech Firms Warn EU over Pace of GM Crop Approvals

By Charlie Dunmore

BRUSSELS | Tue Oct 11, 2011

(Reuters) – Europe’s biotechnology industry has warned the European Commission that agricultural imports vital to EU food security are increasingly being put at risk, due to the slow pace of the bloc’s approval system for genetically modified (GM) crops.

In a report to be presented to EU policymakers on Tuesday, biotech association EuropaBio said the speed of GM crop authorizations in Europe is slowing — even as governments worldwide seek to step up the pace of their approvals.

“The EU authorization process for GM products takes substantially longer than comparable systems, despite the fact that government processes around the world to assess the safety and impact of GM products are essentially the same,” it said. Continue reading Biotech Firms Warn EU over Pace of GM Crop Approvals

World Economic Forum Releases Global Risk Report…Trouble Ahead?

Terry D. Etherton

The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently released its sixth annual report on the state of the global economy. The Global Risk Report 2011 discusses several threats to world stability, including rising economic disparity, insufficient global governance, and sufficient availability of water, food and energy.

According to the WEF Global Risk Report 2011, economic disparity and global governance failures likely will  pose a risk to global stability. Economic disparity can be viewed as the “gradient” in wealth among countries that may affect social and political stability.  Economic disparity is an important contributor to many global issues including corruption, health issues, food insecurity, terrorism, and several others. Continue reading World Economic Forum Releases Global Risk Report…Trouble Ahead?

The Economist: Agricultural Biotechnology is “an Unmitigated Environmental Miracle”

The Economist

The Economist published an article in their prestigious “The World in 2010” issue about the clear-cut environmental benefits of agricultural biotechnology.   The author, Matt Ridley, writes that the results of agricultural biotechnology are astonishing and promising, as genetically modified crops need less land and water to achieve the same yield.

This issue of The Economist is dedicated to looking ahead, and if Mr. Ridley is right, agricultural biotechnology will continue to be adopted worldwide as it is crucial to preserving our climate and feeding the world. He writes, “within a decade there may be crops that are no-till, insect-resistant, omega-3-enriched, drought-tolerant, salt-tolerant and nitrogen-efficient. If they boost yields, then the 21st century will see more and more people better and better fed from less and less land.”

You can read the full article here.

Biotech Improves Sustainability

Corn Field

Biotech Crops Help Reduce Agriculture’s Pesticide Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
PG Economics Research Summary (The UK)
December 7, 2009

In light of ongoing debates on global food security, agricultural sustainability and climate change, it is important to recognize the benefits biotechnology brings to world agricultural production.

According to several research summaries released by PG Economics in the UK, those impacts are significant. Continue reading Biotech Improves Sustainability

Will Animal Agriculture Continue to Exist?

Chad Dechow
Associate Professor, Dairy Cattle Genetics
Department of Dairy and Animal Science
The Pennsylvania State University

If Activists, Government, and Global Business Unite

I got my first bumper sticker (for my bicycle) as a 10 year old kid showing cows at the county fair. It said “Farmers Feed You Three Times a Day” and it resonated with me because, even at that age, I understood that those who feed the rest of the world are often not held in high regard. I got some of my first exposure to those who don’t like animal agriculture at the same fair when a stranger asked me how I would like my head brushed with that those stiff bristles. Continue reading Will Animal Agriculture Continue to Exist?

DHS Firm on Kansas Site for Bio-Defense Research Lab

Sep 1, 2009
By: James M. Lewis

WASHINGTON — Despite a critical report from another agency and a fair amount of political pressure, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) remains committed to the Manhattan, Kan., site it chose for building a new national bio-defense research laboratory and says it won’t re-open the site-selection process.

As part of the 2010 government appropriations bill, Congress asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a separate study on DHS’s recommendation to move the Level-3 laboratory at Plum Island, N.Y., to Kansas. The study was to evaluate whether it would be safe to conduct research into foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) at a mainland site for the first time, rather than on the offshore island where it’s been handled for decades in an aging facility. Continue reading DHS Firm on Kansas Site for Bio-Defense Research Lab

H3N2 Brings New Influenza Threat

A ProMED-mail post (August 2, 2009)

Hong Kong’s health authorities announced Wednesday [27 Jul 2009] that a new variant of the H3N2 seasonal influenza virus has been found in the city. The Brisbane strain has been the prevalent circulator of H3N2 in the past year, and the new variant is its direct descendent, said Thomas Tsang, controller of Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection (CHP). “However, it has some genetic changes distinguishing it from the old Brisbane strain,” he said. He said it is normal for viruses to go through changes, adding that overseas health authorities, including those in Canada, Britain and Australia, had also found the new variant. Continue reading H3N2 Brings New Influenza Threat

Infectious Diseases Study Site Questioned

On June 9, 2009, I posted a blog “The Slippery Slope Involved in the Proposed Move of the U.S. Foot and Mouth Disease Lab – What a “Mess!” that questioned the basis for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) support for the movement of FMD virus and research from the current location at Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center (PIADC) to the newly announced National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) site managed by Kansas State University.  This morning’s Washington Post had a very interesting article that discusses concerns about this issue.  Enjoy reading the story.

By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 27, 2009

The Department of Homeland Security relied on a rushed, flawed study to justify its decision to locate a $700 million research facility for highly infectious pathogens in a tornado-prone section of Kansas, according to a government report. Continue reading Infectious Diseases Study Site Questioned

Health Inspectors Caught Swine Flu Investigating Alberta Pig Farm Outbreak

A ProMED-mail post (July 23, 2009)

Two Canadian Food Inspection Agency [CFIA] inspectors appear to have contracted swine flu while investigating an outbreak of the new virus in pigs on an Alberta farm in late April [2009], the agency confirmed on 21 July 2009.

The cases appear to be the first report of people catching the new H1N1 virus from pigs. Continue reading Health Inspectors Caught Swine Flu Investigating Alberta Pig Farm Outbreak