Newsflash: We'll Need GMOs To Feed the World

Prairie Gleanings

Somewhere along the way, the anti-GMO activists forgot to ask one simple question. Does the world want GMOs?

Published on: July 10, 2013

During the Cultivating Master Farmers’ commencement ceremony, Bob Thompson, University of Illinois professor emeritus, saddled a group of Illinois’ brightest farmers with some sobering information.

By 2050, he wagers the world population will top 9.6 billion people. That’s a 36% increase.

Thompson notes sub-Saharan Africa will add 1.2 billion people in that time – a 132% increase. Whoa!

As he filtered through stats on population growth, land allocation and global food demand, one sentiment is crystal clear – these growing nations will rely heavily upon ag imports.

Who will have to pick up the slack? Yep, the American farmer.

For many countries, importing food is the only viable way to feed a growing population. GMOs are a key part of producing enough for everyone.
For many countries, importing food is the only viable way to feed a growing population. GMOs are a key part of producing enough for everyone.

As most in ag know, GMOs are a necessary part in meeting this growing food demand. Thompson agrees.

Despite the vocal opposition to advancing crop technology, GMOs are here to stay. Thompson notes China, India and Brazil are pouring money into GMO research.

That little tidbit made me smile. It verifies a belief I’ve long held about the non-GMO activists. They’re elitists.

You see, as they continue to browbeat U.S. farmers on the dangers of GMO technology and how wrong it is to “force” these products on the world, they forgot to ask one little question. Does the world want GMOs?

Apparently the answer is yes. Thompson even indicated the anti-GMO attitude in the EU is softening.

It’s not surprising. The activists also maintain that evil corporations are forcing their GMO wares upon the poor American farmer.

Nice try, but this is a free country. U.S. farmers are buying GMO crops because they want to.

Thompson also pointed out that more than 1.4 billion people are living on less than $1.25 per day. About 1 billion people cannot afford 1,800 calories per day, i.e. they’re going to bed hungry.

And yet, I continue to get comments about how these countries need to install hydroponic systems, or explore the wonders of aquaculture. Or, maybe they should build some rooftop gardens.

Umm…these folks are spending all of their money on food and shelter. Where are they going to get the money for these cash-intensive farming systems?

I was going to build a raised garden bed in my back yard this year. I figured it would cost me nearly $100 to get the thing going. (Again, many of these low-income populations have absolutely zero discretionary income.)

It’s time for the activists to come down off their high-horse. Starving people in Africa don’t care about GMOs. They just want food.

This fringe group needs to stop trying to dictate the terms on how food should be grown for the world. Step back and let the experts feed these people.

Post Tags: intensive farming

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  1. The Professor says:

    Starving people in Africa would also be delighted to have a flush toilet and not die of malaria by age 30. I fail to see how their immediate needs should affect what I put in my body. Population grown is untenable and will have to end at some point. GMO's may produce cheaper calories, but it only delays the fundamental problem of unchecked human population. That makes me pragmatic, not elitist.

  2. Martin says:

    We all need to get past this debate on GE crops. GE is just another tool in the agronomist toolbox and is not the solution to feeding the world. At the same time, it is not the threat to human existence and health that opponents claim.