“Now, in regards to the ÒFriendsÓ mentioned above, I couldnÕt help thinking of a line from a comedian I once heard. He said, Òsome people are afraid of heights. Not me, IÕm afraid of widths.Ó
I mean, really, there is no amount of good news that will satisfy some folks.
Check out the new report from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), which determines the global area of biotech crops each year. The latest one, covering 2007, was just released. It tells a now familiar story of rapid growth in the use of biotech and the totally positive impacts on the environment and peopleÕs lives.
Twelve million farmers in 23 countries were responsible for this achievement, up from 10.3 million in 21 countries in 2006. The number of biotech acres they planted increased by 12 percent from a year before. The newest members of the GM club are Chile and Poland.
Farmers in the United States accounted for about half of the worldÕs biotech acres. Growers in South America–mainly Argentina and Brazil, plus Paraguay and Uruguay–planted about one-third of the total. Canada, India, China, and South Africa also devoted substantial acreage to GM crops.
While the nations like the U.S. lead in adoption, for the first time since GM crops became commercial products a dozen years ago, theyÕre being grown in more developing countries (12) than in developed ones (11).
It is so significant to notice that, of the 12 million farmers who currently grow GM crops, about 11 million of them are identified as resource poor. Does anyone honestly believe these farmers have resources to take this step if they didnÕt believe Ð and have proof Ð that it is working to their benefit? Come on!
ÒThis very high adoption rate by farmers reflects the fact that biotech crops have consistently performed well and delivered significant economic, environmental, health, and social benefits to both small and large farmers in developing and industrial countries,Ó says the report. ISAAA also calculates that since the commercialization of GM crops in 1996, farmers have opted to use them 55 million times.
ThatÕs a remarkable endorsement of a new technology, but it only hints at what may come. Within the next year or two, farmers in Burkina Faso, Egypt, and Vietnam are likely to start planting biotech crops. Those would be welcome additions, but the advent of GM rice promises the biggest boom of all. When it joins corn, soybeans, cotton and canola as a commercial, biotech-enhanced product, itÕs possible that 100 million farmers will use GM crops by 2015.
But, you know, statistics shed a cold light and for true progress to be declared, we need to see things at a very personal level. IÕm a farmer myself and recently got to meet a wonderful Filipino lady who also farms and is succeeding with the help of biotechnology. The ISAAA press release quotes Filipino farmer Rosalie Ellasus, a widowed mother of three children and winner of the 2007 Dean Kleckner Trade and Technology Advancement Award: ÒWith the extra income generated from biotech maize, investing in farming made sense and allowed me to earn more,Ó she said. ÒWith the added income, I have been able to send all my children to college.Ó
Ask Rosalie and she will shed the warm light of her farming experience on the biotech story. Unfortunately, the radical activist group, ÒFriends of the EarthÓ has tried to pick apart the ISAAA study. Weirdly, it accuses the ISAAA of being Ôindustry-fundedÕ. In reality, the ISAAAÕs report on biotech acreage is fully financed by the Rockefeller Foundation, a philanthropic organization that helped underwrite the 20th centuryÕs Green Revolution. DonÕt believe some group like these ÔfriendsÕ who are just against everything!
Rosalie and I farm in different parts of the globe, yet we both feel fortunate to live in times that bring new opportunity to succeed. All people today are reaching for a better life. That ÔbetterÕ we are choosing includes our personal finances; our lifestyle and environment; our communities and our families. Rosalie and I trust in actual results.
Reg Clause, a Truth About Trade and Technology board member (www.truthabouttrrade.org) raises cattle, corn and soybeans on a fourth generation family farm in central Iowa.