What is in this article?:
- African farmer to California: Prop 37 vote will impact me
- Prop 37 will impact global biotech
- In many poor countries, biotechnology has spread slowly. Anti-globalization activists have crusaded against them, wrongly insisting that old-fashioned farming practices are adequate in the 21st century. Tellingly, few of these protestors have backgrounds in either farming or the science of crop biotechnology.
When the United States votes on November 6, many Kenyans will want to see if Americans will re-elect President Obama, with whom we share a kinship through his Kenyan father.
Yet there’s another election that matters even more to us – not just as Kenyans, but as Africans who live on a hungry continent, where food insecurity poses a daily threat.
Nobody outside California can vote on Proposition 37, a ballot initiative that would require labels for many types of food that contain genetically modified (GM) ingredients. If it passes, however, Proposition 37 will hurt global efforts to improve food production through modern technology.
Advocates of the proposal say that consumers have a right to know what they’re eating. That’s true enough, and the U.S. federal government already requires clear and comprehensive nutritional information to appear on food packages. The American Medical Association says that there is no scientific justification for adding additional details about biotech ingredients. It would simply confuse grocery-store shoppers, who might worry that such food presents a health risk.
For more, see: Prop 37 judgment day upon us
Nothing could be further from the truth. Over the last 15 years, farmers around the world have grown more than 3 billion acres of GM crops. No credible scientific evidence has shown food with GM ingredients to have caused as much as a sneeze, let alone actual harm. GM crops are perfectly safe.
Farmers plant GM crops because they’re better than traditional varieties: They grow more food on less land, need fewer herbicides and pesticides, and fight soil erosion because they reduce tillage. They are models of economic and environmental sustainability.
They’re also essential to feeding the planet. Demographers say that by 2050, global food production must double. The only way to meet this goal is through innovation. Just as farmers throughout history have crossbred plants to create new crops, we must now deploy the modern tools of biotechnology to coax higher yields from existing agricultural land.
The good news is that many nations already have embraced GM farming. In the United States, Canada, Argentina, and Brazil, the vast majority of corn and soybeans are the products of biotechnology. They’re no longer cutting-edge crops, but utterly conventional. People eat food with GM ingredients every day.
Yet in many poor countries–and especially in sub-Saharan Africa–biotechnology has spread slowly. Anti-globalization activists have crusaded against them, wrongly insisting that old-fashioned farming practices are adequate in the 21st century. Tellingly, few of these protestors have backgrounds in either farming or the science of crop biotechnology.