Persones de menjar cada dia, però molts d'ells no tenen cap idea d'on ve el menjar. Even fewer understand how farmers are challenged to produce it.
Això és especialment cert aquí a l'Uruguai, where I grow a variety of crops and also raise livestock. The population in my country is ‘ mal distribuïda’: Sobre 60 percent of our population lives on less than 5 percent of our land. For every single person like me who lives in a rural area, 19 live in a city.
Many of the urban population think that their food just shows up in grocery stores, com si es tracta d'una línia de muntatge en una fàbrica.
This can lead to bad public policies, written by politicians who rarely set foot on a farm—even as they demand food security for themselves and their families.
So I’m thankful that Uruguay and a dozen other counties signed an agreement earlier this month to support farmers who strive to innovate. The title of the agreement is long—la declaració internacional sobre les aplicacions agrícoles de la biotecnologia de precisió. —but the principle is simple. It calls for farmers to enjoy “access to products that increase productivity while preserving environmental sustainability.”
Signants inclouen els nostres veïns, Argentina i Brasil, així com als Estats Units, Canadà, Austràlia, Colòmbia, La República Dominicana, Guatemala, Hondures, Jordan, Paraguay and Vietnam. La Secretaria de la comunitat econòmica dels Estats Àfrica occidental també van donar suport.
They’ve now pledged to support the gene-editing techniques that promise to harness the powers of sound science and revolutionize our farms. The statement encourages countries to cooperate as they begin to take advantage of precision biotechnology, rather than to build the regulatory hurdles and trade barriers that so often get in the way of progress.
I’ve seen what can happen when a country doesn’t embrace safe technologies. In Uruguay, vam ser lent a acceptar els OMG. Mentrestant, Argentina and Brazil adopted them quickly, right across the border from us. Es va obtenir recompenses immediates. Tot el que podríem fer és veure.
The problem wasn’t with farmers: Des del començament, Hem volgut plantar els OMG. We hoped to gain their special ability to fight weeds and pests. Yet we faced opposition that came from urban residents and their tremendous misconceptions about farming.
Some of them assume that all farmers are millionaire landowners. Res no podria estar més lluny de la veritat. I happen to be a farmer who doesn’t even own a farm: I lease the land I work. I also help out my father and participate in a couple of societies that raise crops.
Not a single acre of this land is mine. I’m an excellent example of how technology can help farmers of all types. Just as it can help the large landowners who depend on massive sales, it can also help the smallholders who simply want to feed themselves. Then there are the ordinary farmers, com jo, que estan en algun lloc entre.
We all need technology—and now that includes access to precision biotechnology.
Uruguayan farmers have been planting Roundup Ready soybeans and Bt corn since 1998 però, un canvi de govern a 2008 portat una moratòria sobre tots els nous trets d'OMG. That ban on new technology was finally lifted in early 2017. We missed out on all the new technologies for 8 anys i mig! Avui, I can’t imagine growing corn and soybeans without this technology. They’ve transformed our business. Yet in many ways we’re still catching up to our competitors—and we’re still fighting the old myths and misinformation that drive skepticism about GMOs.
We can’t take anything for granted. Lots of countries continue to ban GMOs, even as their safety is proven and their advantages are obvious.
Uruguay simply can’t suffer the same fate with gene editing. We need it as soon as we can have it. Perhaps because our government has joined the statement on precision biotechnology, we won’t have to wait.
Rather than watching our neighbors and other countries with envy, I’m looking forward to a series of remarkable advances that will make farming less risky and more predictable. We need crops that can withstand drought, crops that can survive degradation, and crops that can thrive in acidic soils. And that means we need what gene editing can deliver.
I’m hopeful about the future of farming in Uruguay and elsewhere—but only if we stick to the values of the International Statement on Agricultural Applications of Precision Biotechnology.