Support Science, Not Sensationalism

One year ago the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to approve Roundup Ready® Alfalfa renewed a debate about the safety of genetically modified crops and the use of glyphosate in the environment.  During this same time period, retired Purdue University professor Don Huber proclaimed the discovery of a plant pathogen “… that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals and probably human beings.”

With his “15 minutes of fame” expiring, Huber appears to be fanning the flames of his theory in hopes this issue will reemerge like a phoenix from the ashes.  Recently I heard him being interviewed on the radio program, “Coast to Coast,” and was amazed by the sensational, unscientific claims he was making.

Huber’s claims were not – nor have they ever been – substantiated.  That’s why it concerns me greatly that many well meaning Americans will hear Huber speak and be scared into thinking biotechnology, and specifically Roundup Ready crops, should be eliminated.

To the contrary, there is much scientific evidence that supports the safety and beneficial impacts of GM crops.  Increased yields, reduced production costs and reduced pesticide use are a few of the benefits outlined in Case Studies in Benefits and Risks of Agricultural Biotechnology by theNational Center for Food and Agricultural Policy.  In April 2010, the National Research Council of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences issued a report concluding U.S. farmers growing biotech crops are realizing substantial economic and environmental befits including lower production costs, fewer pest problems, reduced use of pesticides and better yields as compared to conventional crops.

I can personally attest that U.S. farmers are benefitting from lower production costs and fewer pest problems thanks to Roundup®.  Farmers also benefit by having more flexibility at application time and wider window in which herbicide can be applied to effectively kill weeds.  Plus, we no longer have to take the time – and do the back-breaking work – of walking soybean fields to pull weeds.

Farmers aren’t the only ones benefitting from Roundup usage.  The environment benefits from reduced pesticide applications.  Plus, consumers are benefitting from increased agricultural productivity.  Biotech crops simply yield more than conventional crops.  In fact, farmers today grow twice as much food as their parents did – using less land, energy and water.  Increasing crop yields even more is going to become increasing important to keep up with the growing world population.  Did you know more food will have to be produced in the next 50 years as the past 10,000 years combined?

I like to eat.  I like to wear clothes.  I like farming, too.  For all these reasons, I’m siding with science instead of sensationalism!