Category Archives: The Food System

Here a “Natural” Food there a “Natural”Food…Have you had any “Natural” Food Lately?

Terry D. Etherton

Is your preference to shop for and purchase “natural” foods?  Based on some of my observations in a few trips recently to the West Coast and Texas, there are some segments of the restaurant and grocery store industries where the usage of this phrase has gotten completely out-of-hand.  Every time I hear “natural foods”, I always wonder what isn’t “natural”?  Of course, that isn’t the point of marketing, which should be to communicate succinctly…no, in the food industry one seems to need phrases that are poetic and differentiate some foods as a whole lot better, safer and healthier even when they are not! Continue reading Here a “Natural” Food there a “Natural”Food…Have you had any “Natural” Food Lately?

FASS Biotechnology Statement – Biotechnology as a Tool to Enhance Sustainability for Animal Production

Terry D. Etherton

The Federation of Animal Science Societies (FASS) has just released a position statement (Biotechnology as a Tool to Enhance Sustainability for Animal Production) about the importance of biotechnology for sustainably feeding a growing world population (the statement is presented below).  FASS is a federation of the American Society of Animal Science, the American Dairy Science Association and the Poultry Science Association, and is dedicated to promoting the benefits of science and education for the good of animal agriculture. Continue reading FASS Biotechnology Statement – Biotechnology as a Tool to Enhance Sustainability for Animal Production

Regulation-Induced Stagnation – What is this?

Terry D. Etherton

There was a great article in the Wall Street Journal “Let’s Restart the Green Revolution” (see below) that addressed the issue of regulation-induced stagnation.  Regulation-induced stagnation is a term that refers to growing regulatory (federal government) oversight for approval of genetically enhanced crops and livestock, and how this slows down the process to approve a new GM crop or animal.  The delay consequently adds greatly to the cost of getting a new ag biotech product through the regulatory approval “pipeline”.  The review process is important because approval is required before commercial sales of an ag biotech product can occur. Continue reading Regulation-Induced Stagnation – What is this?

There is no “Hill” Backing for Biotech Alfalfa Restrictions

Terry D. Etherton

I have discussed the “firestorm” of opposition that has flared up in response to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s idea of calling for producers of GM, non-GM and organic crops to “coexist” in previous posts on Terry Etherton Blog on Biotechnology.

Jim Webster of Agri-Pulse Communications has published an excellent article about the House Agriculture Committee’s view about de-regulating Roundup Ready alfalfa…their view is to de-regulate it without burdensome and non-science based restrictions, and do it expediently.  To read the article by Mr. Webster, click here.

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 Locavore’s Plight

Terry D. Etherton

If you are a “foodie” you might be part of the local food movement that passionately advocates that eating locally sourced food is preferable to food produced by contemporary production agriculture.  Much has been written about the pros and cons on this subject.

The local food movement championed by “locavores” enjoys passionate support by some in the media, chefs at “foodie” restaurants, and more than a few elected officials.  The realities I believe about the local food movement are dramatically divergent from the locavores’ perspective.

There was an article, The Locavore’s Dilemma:  Why Pineapples Shouldn’t Be Grown in North Dakota, that was recently posted on Library of Economics and Liberty that informatively and entertainingly discussed some of misleading claims made by supporters of locally produced food.  The article was written by Drs. Jayson Lusk and Bailey Norwood, two Ag Econ professors at Oklahoma State University.

Take a look…it is a terrific “read”!

Continue reading The Locavore’s Plight

Former Ag Secretary John Block Weighs in on “Coexistence” at USDA

Terry D. Etherton

As I have written in previous blogs posted on Terry Etherton Blog on Biotechnology, a “firestorm” has erupted in response to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s idea of calling for producers of GM, non-GM and organic crops to “coexist”.  This issue flared up after USDA issued its environmental impact statement on Roundup Ready alfalfa in December, 2010 when Mr.  Vilsack convened a “stakeholder” meeting (December 20) of proponents and opponents of the biotechnology to “talk it out”.

Representative Colin Peterson (D-MN), the past Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, recently weighed in about the “firestorm” in the January 5 issue of the Agri-Pulse Newsletter. Continue reading Former Ag Secretary John Block Weighs in on “Coexistence” at USDA

Luddites at the USDA Door

Terry D. Etherton

I can imagine that you are wondering what “Luddites at the USDA Door” means?  I selected the phrase to describe a process that USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack launched on December 20, 2010 to explore the topic of “coexistence” and regulatory oversight for Roundup Ready® Alfalfa, an alfalfa variety produced using the tools of modern genetic modification (GM).  Coexistence, you ask…what does this mean?

Some background is needed… In 2006, the Center for Food Safety, a prominent Luddite group, sued USDA to stop the sale and planting of Roundup Ready® Alfalfa seeds.  The next step in this “tale” was a federal court-ordered injunction in 2007 that halted sale of Roundup Ready® Alfalfa until a review and the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) could be completed by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the USDA.  This was just released in December, 2010 and is a mere 2,468 pages, including appendices.  Imagine reading this! Continue reading Luddites at the USDA Door

Happy Holidays – And Celebrate Science

Terry D. Etherton

Pontifical Academy of Sciences

To all the readers of my blog, I wish you a Happy Holiday Season and the best for a wonderful New Year!  There is much to celebrate in life!  And, there also is much to celebrate in the world of science.

At this time of the year, many individuals celebrate Christmas.  Interestingly, in the spirit of religious celebration, the proceedings from a scientific symposium hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences were just published in the November, 2010 issue of New Biotechnology.  The symposium “Transgenic Plants for Food Security in the Context of Development” was hosted by the Catholic Church, and held at Vatican City in May, 2009.  The “take home” message from the symposium is summarized in an Editorial published in New Biotechnology by Dr. Werner Arber – that science and scientific advances “can undoubtedly and decisively contribute to solving the growing problem of world hunger.”  What a powerful message to convey at this time of the year about the need for science, and value of science in feeding a growing world population.

The importance of science also reverberates powerfully in the message by Pope Paul VI who in referring to the tragedy of world hunger concluded his message by asking God “to direct the application of scientific research to the production of new food supplies, since one of the greatest challenges that humanity must face, together with the danger of nuclear holocaust, is the hunger of the poor of this world” (Arber, 2010).

With this, I urge you not to forget about the 1 billion individuals in the world who are hungry.  And, the need to continue innovation in science to discover and “deliver” the next generation of scientific advances that will benefit humankind in the future.

GMOs and Nature – One and the Same

Terry D.Etherton

A recent post on the New York Times Freakonomics blog presented insightful information about the nonsense some in the “media” are conveying that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are “unnatural”.  The blog is a refreshing and interesting story about GMOs being natural, and that adoption of them is not going to up-heave the natural world in some mysterious manner.  Continue reading GMOs and Nature – One and the Same