Feeding the world through technology

Among the many reasons that I-522 (genetically engineered labeling) is a bad idea is the impact it would have on beneficial new technologies. In a Friday story on I-522, Austin Jenkins quotes Chris Rivera of the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association:

“The long-term vision for the biotechnology industry is to heal, feed and fuel the world,” Rivera says. “And the only way we’re going to be able to take care of nine billion people by 2050 is through biology and biotechnology.”

Meanwhile, both the Seattle Times and The News Tribune editorialized against I-522 over the weekend. From the Times:

Farmers and science have nurtured and bred hybrid versions of plants and animals for selective characteristics for centuries. But the efforts of the last few decades have stirred critics whose alarmist concerns are not supported by the mainstream scientific community. . . .

For lots of hungry people in the world the existence of such crop options has meant higher yields and plants with disease and pest resistance. Access to GMO rice that fights a vitamin-A deficiency ranks as an agrarian miracle, with its help to combat childhood infections, diseases and blindness.

From TNT:

What’s most misleading is the premise of the labeling – that there’s something so suspect about genetic modification that the public must be warned on the front of box. All genetic modification for any reason whatsoever – even to enhance a crop’s nutritional value or help the plant survive droughts and farms conserve water.

As we wrote in our report on I-522, the European Union’s (EU) GE labeling requirement impacted R&D efforts there. A European Commission report found:

The EU’s agricultural biotechnology sector could, in the mid-term, generate benefits to EU society in excess of the current benefits. The legislation has been designed to meet public concern relating to the technology and this has had an impact on the development of the sector in that the EU is no longer a world leader in this field.

For more on the benefits of the technology, see pages 21-22 of our report.