Julie Borlaug says biotech is necessary in fight against hunger
click image to zoomTexas A&M AgriLife ResearchJulie Borlaug, granddaughter of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug and associate director for the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, delivers the keynote address advocating science and biotechnology as important tools in addressing global food security at the recent Ag Issues Forum in San Antonio. Julie Borlaug, granddaughter of Nobel Peace prize laureate and father of the Green Revolution Dr. Norman Borlaug, recently presented the keynote address to 165 U.S. and foreign newspaper, television, radio and Internet journalists at the 9th annual Ag Issues Forum in San Antonio.
The forum, presented by Bayer CropScience, was held in advance of the annual Commodity Classic, which is touted as the “nation’s largest farmer-led and farmer-focused convention and trade show.“
In her address, Borlaug, who is associate director for external relations at the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, part of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M University System, said her grandfather was a strong proponent of science and biotechnology as “weapons in the fight against world hunger.” She urged forum attendees to help “educate and inform the public” about the need for continued scientific and biotechnological advances in agriculture to feed a growing world population.
“In my view, advocates of biotechnology desperately need to do a better job of explaining to the public why it is so important to the future of humanity and why we should not deprive millions, even billions, of people from its promise,” she said. “Science has spoken and the consensus is that genetically modified foods are safe and have the same nutritional value as organics.”
Borlaug noted that the world population, currently estimated at 7.2 billion, is expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050.
“Almost all of that growth will be in undeveloped or underdeveloped countries and in locations where smallholder farmers are already struggling to raise sufficient crops,” Borlaug said. “I wonder how many opposed to biotechnology have ever been to an undeveloped country where agricultural workers, many of whom are women, spend their days pulling weeds, hauling water and fighting against crop loss from insects, viruses, bacteria and fungi.
“Without the life-changing and life-saving innovations of science and biotechnology, such as crops that are more drought, pest or disease resistant, how can these small-landholder farmers hope to advance beyond mere subsistence, much less provide food to feed others?”
Borlaug said she hoped scientists, journalists and others either directly involved in or communicating about biotechnology would find more practical and uncomplicated terms and “jargon” to describe its benefits and make a better case for the necessity of agricultural advancements.
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