Benefits of Having the Choice to use Technology in Agriculture

Mark Armfelt, DVM, DAVBP

By choosing technologies that increase productivity, the American Farmer has consistently provided an ever increasing number of American consumers with an abundant, economical, safe food supply. They have also been able to produce that food in a sustainable manner.

Abundant Food – Today’s farmer produces enough food to feed 143 people, which is five times as many people as each one fed in 1950. Some examples of how they did it:

  • American dairy farmers have led the way by increasing the total production of milk by over 50% since 1950. They have done this with 62% fewer cows!

  • Since 1950, total world production of all major cereal grains has tripled. That extra food was produced off approximately the same amount of land.

  • U.S. beef cattle producers have increased their production per cow by 80% since 1955.

Economical Food – The average American consumer spends 6% of their disposable income on food prepared at home. In the European Union that number is 11%, in Mexico it is 24%, and in the Philippines it is 48%.

Safe Food – The following scientific organizations have acknowledged that today’s food supply is safe: World Health Organization, Food & Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, National Academy of Sciences, American Medical Association, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Society of Toxicology, Institute of Food Technologists, American Cancer Society, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Surgeon General’s Office, and the American Dietetics Association.

Sustainable – By having the freedom to choose technologies, farmers today can increase productivity while minimizing the footprint agriculture leaves on the environment. Here are a few examples of that:

  • In the dairy industry, the decrease in cow numbers from almost 24 million in 1950 to just over 9 million cows today has decreased the amount of water, feed, land and fuel it takes to produce dairy products for today’s consumer. Decreasing cow numbers has also decreased manure and greenhouse gas production.

  • Without new technologies in crop production we’d have had to cut down approximately three times as much forest or plowed up three times as much grazing land…to produce a harvest equivalent to 2000. That’s how much land high-yield technology saved for Mother Nature.

  • In 2004 the use of biotech crops in the United States provided for a reduction in pesticide use by 64.6 million pounds, saved millions of tons of topsoil, and millions of gallons of fuel.

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