GE crops: where we’ve been and where we’re going
The price of GE soybeans and corn increased by about 50 percent, adjusted for inflation, between 2001 and 2010, according to the report. But the report says that planting Bt corn and cotton is more profitable, as measured by net returns, than planting conventional seeds.
On the consumer side, the report found that acceptance of foods with GE products varies based on product characteristics, geography, and the information consumers are exposed to. Some studies cited in the report found consumers to be willing to try, and even pay a premium, for GE foods with positive enhancements, like nutritionally enhanced products. While other studies found a willingness to pay for non-GE foods. With regard to geography, some studies found increased willingness to pay for GE foods in developing countries compared to developed countries. Despite numerous reports being cited by USDA, the agency says consumer approval patterns are not clear enough to draw definite conclusions.
Non-GE foods are available in the United States, but they represent a small share of retail markets. While critics of GE crops and the food products they make continue to push for mandatory labeling requirements, science has shown, and the U.S. government and World Health Organization agree, that plants and crops grown from GE seeds are safe for human consumption. With the population continuing to grow and the amount of farmland continuing to fall, the ability of farmers to produce food and fiber more efficiently will continue to be one of the biggest challenges facing agriculture around the globe.
I participated in a tour of a wheat farm during harvest a couple of years ago, and other participants included a group of bloggers from cities around the United States and wheat millers from Nigeria. While there is no commercially available GE wheat, the topic of GMOs came up in conversation. The responses reinforce what this USDA report claims. The bloggers from the United States were skeptical and questioned GMOs and GE seeds. However, the wheat millers said these technologies will help feed their people and the world.
What are your thoughts? Will the use of GE crops, and continued research and development of new varieties, help address the challenge of feeding the world in the future? Leave us a comment below.