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Mr. Chairman, Society can benefit from biotechnology in agriculture.

Published on 22 August 2014

The following statements are from the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture public hearing on July 9, which discussed the benefits of biotechnology. Witnesses included professors and a dairy farmer, who is also a mother, who emphasized how society can benefit from modern applications of biotechnology in agriculture.

“I personally believe there is room for many different styles of farming. I also believe that biotechnology plays a major role in our collective ability to not only feed a growing global population but to also make individual improvements on our own farms, be it 45 cows or 4,500 cows, a cash crop operation or an apple orchard, a multiple-generation farm or a beginning farmer. Even though less than 2 percent of the U.S. population now lives on farms or is actively involved in farming, agriculture comes in all different sizes and shapes.”

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—Joanna Lidback
Dairywoman, The Farm at Wheeler Mountain, Westmore, Vermont

“The growth in technological abundance will also play an important role in democratizing biotechnology and bringing more players into the field. [...] More important, regulatory processes need to be brought in line with the state of knowledge on the benefits and risks of biotechnology. The time has come for the U.S. to renew its leadership role by ensuring that regulatory processes help to spread further the benefits of biotechnology.”

—Dr. Calestous Juma
Professor, Practice of International Development, and director, Science, Technology, and Globalization Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Cambridge, Massachusetts

“Consumers have developed misperceptions regarding the benefits of biotechnology in part because the industry does not explain those benefits to them. Industry has focused understandably on marketing the benefits of growing these crops to farmers, leaving consumers with a latent understanding of why genetic modifications are introduced into the food supply to begin with. Because consumers do not actively consider why these modifications have been introduced, they tend to ignore the health, cost, nutrition or other benefits of these foods.”

—Dr. David Just
Professor, co-director, Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

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“Varieties of crops that require less labor, less water and less land have resulted in lower food costs, making food products more affordable domestically. This also results in sustainable agricultural practices that are necessary to reduce the human footprint on the environment. Further, as we yield food surpluses, we also are able to export them to countries that may not have the ability to produce adequate food for their needs, allowing the U.S. to play a significant role in feeding the world.”

—Dr. Olga Bolden-Tiller
Assistant professor, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama

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