Monthly Archives: December 2009

Are You Hungry?

Terry D. Etherton

I have spent the last few weeks attending many Holiday celebrations and receptions.  A key component of these fabulous gatherings has been all of the delicious food.  In addition, I have received many food gifts from family, friends and colleagues.

We are deeply fortunate to live in a country where there is “food galore”. This reflects the impressive nature of our food system, from farm to fork, and the many science and technological advances that allowed this “to happen”.   However, I wish to remind my readers that there are many in the World that suffer from too much food, as well as too little food.  Both of these “bring” pressing social and health issues. Continue reading Are You Hungry?

2009 Year in Review: Scientists give their Opinion of Top News Stories in Agricultural Biotechnology

Council for Biotechnology Information
Published December 16, 2009

Biotechnology Ag

With so many stories to choose from, it was hard for us to determine the top agricultural biotechnology story of 2009. Therefore, we turned to the Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI) experts and let them choose the top three stories that stood out in terms of their significance and impact on the future of agricultural biotechnology worldwide. CBI experts include the nation’s leading scientists in plant genetics and food science, among other disciplines. Continue reading 2009 Year in Review: Scientists give their Opinion of Top News Stories in Agricultural Biotechnology

New Yorker Reporter Michael Specter Promotes Biotechnology and Science in Denialism


Michael Specter, a staff writer with the New Yorker, confronts the widespread fear of science and the negative impact it could have on scientific progress in the areas of  global agriculture, health and nutrition in his new book Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives .

Specter appeared on National Public Radio’s (NPR’s )“On the Media” program promoting Denialism and explaining the importance of agricultural biotechnology in addressing certain global challenges, and the resistance to it among certain groups.

A transcript of the NPR interview is available here.

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

Here a Clone there a Clone–More “Word Play”

Terry D. Etherton


Some groups still continue to spread information about animal cloning and whether food from clones is safe to enter our food system.

Groups opposed to cloning use communication tactics that are designed to scare consumers about the safety of food from cloned animals.  These attacks continue even though in 2008 the Food and Drug Administration published Animal Cloning: A Risk Assessment, a lengthy document that concluded (based on the burden of scientific evidence) meat and milk from cow, pig, and goat clones, and the offspring of any animal clones are as safe as food we eat every day.

I find it remarkably interesting that there seems to be little concern by these activist groups about the use of cloning in the wine industry (by the way, the fact is that there is no basis for any concern).  My point, however, is simple.  How come the science of cloning is attacked in animals but not when applied to grapes?

Ever been to a vineyard and looked at the grape varieties?  They are clones!!  And, many vineyard owners proudly put up signs touting the particular clone(s) that are planted in each “block” of their vineyard. Continue reading Here a Clone there a Clone–More “Word Play”

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?

Global Study Debunks Food Sustainability Myths


HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, PORTLAND, Ore., GOTHENBURG, Sweden, November 23, 2009 – Popular thinking about how to improve food systems for the better often misses the point, according to the results of a three-year global study of salmon production systems. Rather than pushing for organic or land-based production, or worrying about simple metrics such as “food miles,” the study finds that the world can achieve greater environmental benefits by focusing on improvements to key aspects of production and distribution. Continue reading Global Study Debunks Food Sustainability Myths