Purdue University President Mitch Daniels on Thursday (Feb. 25) called on leaders in the public, private and nonprofit sectors to push back against the attackers of biotechnology in agricultural production. Daniels was a keynote speaker at the annual Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington.
“The attack on GMO technology is the most blatant anti-science of the age, but it is far worse than that,” Daniels said. “Lives are at stake, and while scientists, regulators and business people are naturally reluctant to fight back, it’s morally irresponsible not to.”
Daniels cited projections by the United Nations that the global population is expected to grow to more than 9 billion people in 2050, generating a 70 percent increase in the demand for food. He described GMOs as the best hope to ensure the world’s poor have access to an affordable and nutritious diet.
“Thousand of studies and trillions of meals consumed prove the safety of biotechnologies,” he said. “We would never withhold medications with a safety record like that, and it’s just as wrong and just as anti-scientific to do so for food.”
Daniels also praised Purdue and other land-grant universities for making the world’s food supply not only safer and more abundant, but far friendlier to the environment.
Daniels cited work done by the university’s World Food Prize winners as well as the Purdue Improved Crop Storage program as examples of land-grant initiatives that are making a difference in the developing world. He also described a forthcoming study by Purdue agricultural economist Wally Tyner and colleagues that concluded if the United States banned GMO crops, consumers would pay at least $14 billion more in annual food costs and global agricultural greenhouse gases would increase by up to 17 percent.