Val Giddings spoke on a panel at the North Carolina Agriculture & Biotechnology Summit, discussing technological innovations being developed to meet the challenges in the production of food, feed and fiber for the 21st Century and a planet that will be home to 9 billion people.
Brave New Potato
On November 7, the US Department of Agriculture cleared the path to commercialization for a “genetically modified” potato that will be more resistant to disease and insects than current varieties. This is big for a host of reasons, but at the top of the list is one: French fries. The United States alone produces some 20 million pounds of potatoes each year, two thirds of which wind up in frozen products. Most of those are French fries. The American consumer eats 120lb of potatoes per year, on average while global potato production is about 73 billion pounds/year. This new variation will reduce pesticide use and crops lost to blight increasing efficiency, reducing environmental impact and producing better yields overall.
Demons Haunt Los Angeles
Los Angeles City Council voted in late October to draft an ordinance that would prohibit the sale or planting of genetically modified (GM) seeds and plants. While the practical impact of this ignorant posturing would be nil, no GM crops are even grown in Los Angeles County, the symbolic impact of the political leaders of Los Angeles slamming the door on the technology that offers some of the best (if not the only) hope of producing improved drought tolerant crops, or rescuing California’s wine and citrus industries from exotic pests and diseases, is alarming to say the least.
Read the extended version here.
GMOs, Neonicotinoids, and Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic: The Fish & Wildlife Service Brings a “Whole Foods” Approach to Wildlife While Shooting Itself in Our Foot
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service quietly announced last summer they would ban the use of the most modern, safest, and most productive new pesticides and improved seeds in national wildlife refuges. This forces them to rely on agricultural techniques with more negative environmental impacts and undermines their conservation mission. Why did they do this? They bought into special interest propaganda and failed to test their prejudices against data and experience. The wildlife they sacrifice on the alter of political correctness will not thank them.
GMO Labeling is Unwarranted and Unnecessary
Val Giddings testified before the New Jersey Assembly’s State and Local Affairs Committee arguing that a proposed bill mandating labels for genetically modified foods is unnecessary and based on ideology and commercial interests not on safety or better informing consumers. GMO foods receive unprecedented testing and review from multiple government, non-governmental and international organizations making state labeling initiatives redundant and costly without providing any additional benefits to consumers.
Testimony in Opposition to Pennsylvania’s Mandatory GMO Labeling Bill
Giddings testified before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee in opposition to HB 1770, a bill which would mandate warning labels on foods derived from crops improved through biotechnology. Giddings argued GMO labeling is redundant and unnecessary due to the the global consensus on the safety of biotech improved seeds and the comprehensive reviews and oversight of GMO crops and foods that are already being undertaken by multiple federal agencies. He also noted that labeling legislation is driven by fear, ideology and commercial interests not on a concern for consumers or safety.