The Des Moines Register
Letter to Editor – by U.S. Sen. Richard G. Lugar
June 10, 2009
Bill doesn’t mandate use of GM technology
People quoted in Philip Brasher’s May 17 column, "Biotech Portion of Foreign Aid Bill Draws Criticism," make incorrect allegations against the Lugar-Casey Global Food Security Act, namely that the bill requires that U.S. foreign assistance go for genetically modified (GM) agricultural technologies and that the provision was designed to benefit U.S. agribusiness.
The bill does not mandate the use of GM technology by any farmers, implementing partners, or government agencies. It does not condition the receipt of food aid on a recipient country’s adoption of GM. The use of any technology is left to individual farmers based on their particular circumstances.
The only provision that mentions GM technology simply says that research on biotechnology, including GM, would be eligible for U.S. assistance. Because the bill advocates strengthening the local capacity of research institutions, U.S. agribusiness is unlikely to be a direct beneficiary of localized innovations.
Advanced technology, whether traditional, biotechnological, or GM, is vital to raising farm productivity to feed the planet’s projected 9.2 billion people. Further, without major gains in output per acre, meeting future food needs will require greatly expanding cultivated acreage, resulting in substantial forest destruction.
In encouraging technological solutions to end chronic hunger, the Lugar-Casey act doesn’t require they be GM.
– U.S. Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Washington, D.C.