As the European Union and the United States approach agreement on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), now’s a good time for us Europeans to approach understanding of USian farming. And vice versa.
Today I’m looking at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a Stateside non-profit.
Definitely Stateside! The UCS ‘puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country…’ Not around the whole world then, eh? Oh well, I’m not xenophobic. That wouldn’t be very British ;-)
Three years ago, UCS called for sustainable agriculture in the States. Among other things, that article invited us to think about genetic engineering (GE, genetic modification, GM) in agriculture. I like this summary of GM and whether it can, or whether it should, be part of sustainable agriculture.
‘All technologies have risks and shortcomings, so critics must always address the question: what are the alternatives?
‘In the case of GE, there are two main answers: crop breeding, which produces traits through the organism’s reproductive process; and agroecological farm management, which seeks to make the most of a plant’s existing traits by optimizing its growing environment.
‘These approaches are generally far less expensive than GE, and often more effective. The biotechnology industry has acknowledged the value of breeding as a complement to GE. But at the same time, the industry has used its formidable marketing and lobbying resources to ensure that its products—and the industrial methods those products are designed to support—continue to dominate both the seed marketplace and the policy conversation, at the expense of ecologically based, diverse farming systems.’