On December 8, 2011, Senior Fellow Val Giddings presented testimony at a public hearing held by the Boulder County Commission, on a proposal to ban crops improved through biotechnology from being grown on approximately 17,000 acres of County green-space land. Boulder County has been a national leader in land use planning, and preserving Front Range green space for multiple uses has been a high priority from the beginning. Boulder is also a seething hotbed of devotion to organic foods and production techniques. The county is home to as many as six nationwide organic chains, one of which (Aurora Dairy) is reportedly the principal instigator and financial sponsor behind the drive to ban "GMOs" from County lands: a move that would be bad for the land, bad for people, and bad public policy.
ITIF Submission to the Office of Science & Technology Policy on "Building a 21st Century Bioeconomy"
Advances in life sciences are pivotal to the well-being of humankind and hold potentially vast economic benefits. In response to an Administration initiative to revise federal policies in this area, ITIF Senior Fellow Val Giddings urges policymakers to reform regulatory practices that are impeding the development of a sustainable, bio-based economy for the 21st century. In a submission filed with the Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) he stresses regulations that do not address credible hazards must be retired, and regulatory oversight must be refocused on areas where risks might, in fact, reside and significant uncertainty remain. He outlined six specific steps for officials to take to ensure regulations better reflect the latest scientific data and promote the development and adoption of critical innovations in this area:
1) Reform the U.S. regulatory system. Regulations must be based in science and should be frequently updated to take into account the lessons gained from experience;
2) The trigger for regulatory review should be the novelty of the introduced trait (introduced by whatever method) and not the process used to introduce the trait;
3) Exempt phenotypes from regulatory review if they could be accomplished through classical breeding methods;
4) Regulatory agencies must stop treating gene flow as intrinsically hazardous, and shift their focus to appropriate risk management/mitigation in the rare cases where genes so disseminated could, in fact, present a genuine hazard;
5) Shift to phenotype-based regulatory triggers. Agencies should transition from an event-based regulatory process to a phenotype-based process, as the hazard of a phenotype that is stably inherited has more to do with the distinguishing features of the phenotype than with the precise details of the process through which it was produced;
6) Enhance effectiveness, adaptability, and public confidence by accelerating regulatory updates and transparency.
Flowers and Pollen and Genes, Oh, My!
In a featured article for Food Chemical News, Senior Fellow Val Giddings argues the claims by organic growers that they are harmed by pollen from nearby biotech crops are not valid. The facts show that biotech crops are safer and more environmentally friendly than organic crops, and any "injuries" suffered by organic farmers are entirely self-inflicted, caused by their own foolish promises to some customers. It appears some organic growers are more interested in putting biotech growers out of business than in "co-existence" which farmers growing different crop varieties have been doing very successfully for many years.
Biotechnology, Chemistry, and the Nine Billion
Senior Fellow Val Giddings, as part of "Innovation Day" 2011, presents on the importance of chemistry in evolving sustainable agricultural practices. He argues both Green Revolution Solutions (internal involving topical applications of pesticides/herbicides, external apps of fertilizers) and Doubly Green Revolution Solutions (building on GR but adding solutions from work with internal chemistry) are essential and indispensible to feeding a world population of billions.
The Main Engineering Problems Used to Be Engineering
In a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal, ITIF Senior Fellow Val Giddings warns that the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 will continue to be used by activists to derail innovation in agriculture.
"Unnatural" Corn/Canola Oil – Dispatches from Behind the Looking Glass…
A law firm specializing in class action suits has filed one against ConAgra. The complaint is that corn and canola oil sold by ConAgra labeled as "natural" cannot be since it is derived from genetically modified corn and canola. Val Giddings explains that the suit, like many others, plagues the legal system and is not based on scientific fact.
Sustaining Biotech Innovation in an Era of Austerity
The European Institute, in cooperation with Amgen, will hold a special meeting of the Roundtable on Technology and Innovation, on the margins of the 2011 BIO International Convention to discuss sustaining biotech innovation. The meeting will address U.S. and EU approaches to spurring innovation in the biotechnology sector in a time of budgetary constraints and growing concerns over rising healthcare costs. With innovation the lynchpin for economic recovery on both sides of the Atlantic, we will examine what policies are necessary to attract and retain companies that innovate, as well as the prospects and challenges for furthering transatlantic cooperation on this shared priority.
The meeting will be held Wednesday, June 29 from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. in the Wilson and Roosevelt Rooms of the Grand Hyatt, located at 1000 H Street, NW. Registration will begin at 8:00 a.m.
To register for the event please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
AAAS Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Lecture
ITIF Senior Fellow Val Giddings will participate in the AAAS Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Lecture in Washington, D.C. The event is co-sponsored by the Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Foundation in collaboration with the World Food Prize Foundation. The Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Foundation (RMF) is committed to promote a broader and more complete understanding of agriculture and to build upon Charles Valentine Riley’s legacy as a “whole picture” person with a vision for enhancing agriculture through scientific knowledge.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science.