GMOs are a controversial climate adaptation measure. But, drought resistant crops are necessary.
Agricultural biotechnology companies have been pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into developing plants that can withstand the effects of a prolonged dry spell. Monsanto Co., based in St. Louis, has received regulatory approval for DroughtGard, a corn variety that contains the first genetically modified trait for drought resistance.
Seed makers, such as Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. of Johnston, Iowa, and Swiss company Syngenta, are already selling drought-tolerant corn varieties, conceived through conventional breeding.
At stake: a $12-billion U.S. seed market, with corn comprising the bulk of sales. The grain is used in such things as animal feed, ethanol and food. The push is also on to develop soybean, cotton and wheat that can thrive in a world that’s getting hotter and drier.
“Drought is definitely going to be one of the biggest challenges for our growers,” said Jeff Schussler, senior research manager for Pioneer, the agribusiness arm of DuPont. “We are trying to create products for farmers to be prepared for that.”
Their efforts come amid concerns about genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, and the unforeseen consequences of this genetic tinkering. Californians in November will vote on Proposition 37, which would require foods to carry labels if they were genetically modified. The majority of corn seed sold is modified to resist pests and reap higher yields.
Opponents say the label would unnecessarily dampen further development that is intended to feed a growing global population dependent on the U.S., the largest exporter of corn and soybean.
“Trying to create drought-tolerant crops is not going to be easy to do,” said Kent Bradford, director of the Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis. “We certainly need all the tools [available] to do that, and that includes conventional breeding and adding transgenic traits. We don’t need to stigmatize these approaches.”
Great read via LATimes
Cards on the table, I’m still sick and didn’t read the whole article. But there’s a basically obvious point that isn’t made here that agricultural political economists have been trying to communicate for years.
Drought resistant crops are not a necessary evil.
Yes, they are evil, but they are not necessary. What is necessary is a more diverse international market for corn (for food production, not ethanol). DOES NO ONE REMEMBER NAFTA?! … probably not. If you’re old enough to remember one power politic move of NAFTA was to take away corn growing power from Mexico (and other Central American states). Mexico was told to clear their corn fields and plant agave; agave was to be their cash crop now, despite the fact that the majority of the Mexican diet is based on corn grown locally and cheaply (not an import product).
…I know I’m angsty because of this flu, but this is what I’m talking about when I go on about how we MUST remember history! This is even recent history! If we accept that GMOs/drought resistant crops are a necessary evil we 1) allow USAg, the USDA, and the people who came up with the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) to tell us it is GMOs or nothing and 2) we accept the injustices that come along with bully-pulpit agricultural political economy/international politics.
Look, all I am saying, is that if NAFTA hadn’t taken away corn growing power from Mexico, you’d all still have cheap corn at your Fourth of July bbqs. …this isn’t complicated intelligence, (shee)people; it’s using historical knowledge to think critically about our governments tell us we must accept.
just in case it wasn’t clear, FUCK MONSANTO.