Many consumers today feel out of touch with how their food is produced and are disturbed by a lot of what they hear about it through their social networks or other sources of information. If it is necessary to assign fault for this phenomenon, I think we could blame Jethro Tull. Jethro Tull!? No, I don’t mean the 70s rock band led by flautist Ian Anderson and guitarist Martin Barre, I mean the early 18th century agronomist and inventor named Jethro Tull (the two Jethros did; however, have similar hair styles).
Norman Borlaug would have been 100 years old last week. He has been called “The Man Who Fed The World,” and “The Father of The Green Revolution.” Norm Borlaug was the first plant pathologist to be awarded a Nobel Prize (1970) – for contributions to world peace. For all of use who are fellow plant pathologists, his work has been particularly inspiring. It is a good time to look back at how the challenge of feeding the world population was met during Borlaug’s career, because we have a similar challenge ahead of us.
The International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) and Biology Fortified have produced a special video tribute to the late Dr. Norman Borlaug, a legendary CIMMYT scientist who developed high-yielding, semi-dwarf wheat that started the Green Revolution which is credited with saving over 1 billion people from starvation. The release of this tribute coincides with The Borlaug Summit on Wheat for Food Security, on what would have been the 100th birthday of Dr. Borlaug. His message of increasing food production and the importance of using science in this effort are still important today – perhaps more than ever as the world has over 7 billion people and still growing. To follow this event, go to www.borlaug100.org, and follow the #borlaug100 hashtag in social media. For more information about CIMMYT, visit www.cimmyt.org.
Rogue wheat is growing in wheat fields in 127 countries around the world! Should consumers be concerned? Ok, I’m indulging in a poor imitation of the emotive language common in sensational writings about food issues. What I said in the paragraph above is all true, it’s just misleading because of a lack of context. After the “crisis” of glyphosate tolerant wheat being found in an Oregon field, I thought it would be useful to put that event into perspective. So… Wheat 1.0 Wheat is largely a “saved seed crop,” meaning that farmers set aside some of the grain from each harvest to use as seed the next year. This is a practical thing for these growers to do because planting rates of wheat seed are very high (e.g. 80 or more lbs/acre) so it would be very expensive to haul bags or bins of seed very far. Also, except for a little bit in
Most Biofortified Blog readers will have heard by now that glyphosate tolerant genetically engineered wheat has been found growing in a field in Oregon. There’s a lot of interesting details to consider, but for now we’ll start with a simple list of links to help you find reliable information as this story develops. First, let’s look at some general information about regulation of agricultural biotechnology in the US. There are three agencies that cover different aspects: FDA covers aspects that involve human or animal safety. FDA’s Role in Regulating Safety of GE Foods. EPA covers plant incorporated protectants (PIPs for short, which refers to any compound produced in plants that may act as a pesticide, such as Bt). EPA’s Regulation of Biotechnology for Use in Pest Management. USDA covers aspects that involve agriculture (including consideration of natural resources), specifically plant health. Within USDA, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service