What is in this article?:
- The European Union has long maintained that its farmers should not plant genetically modified crops.
- This position has endured even though producers in other parts of the world have increased yields and reduced pesticide applications through the use of the technology.
- EU farmers like Gabriela Cruz of Portugal are beginning to insist that the European Union give its producers access to biotech crops.
(TATT hosted a Global Farmer-to-Farmer Roundtable Oct. 12 and 13, prior to events in Des Moines related to the World Food Prize. The Roundtable is supported by the Council for Biotechnology Information, CropLife International, and the National Corn Growers Association.
Cruz said removing the ban on biotech crops would help European farmers and consumers.
“What we are facing now are some problems controlling weeds,” she said. “We are spreading an enormous amount of herbicides. If we had other biotech crops like those that are resistant to herbicides, it would help us because we would be able to reduce costs, to increase our production and be more sustainable in our practices.
“Biotechnology offers one of the most promising solutions to many emerging challenges in feeding the world’s growing population,” Cruz says.
The International Panel for Climate Change forecasts increasing dryness for the Mediterranean region where Cruz farms. Portuguese farmers have experienced droughts similar to those encountered by farmers in Africa, and water prices for Portuguese farmers have risen by 40 percent.
“Scientists can generate crops that make more efficient use of water, as well as add characteristics that allow us to fight off weeds that compete with desired crops and suck water and nutrients from the soil,” says Cruz.
Fantasies for farmers
“Yet, these innovations will remain fantasies for farmers in Europe as long as our governments listen to misinformed activists and journalists that crowd out the responsible views of scientists, Nobel Prize winners and farmers.”
Cruz says her family has seen how biotech crops can improve their quality of life, and she wants more of that for herself, her sisters, her workers, and the women who farm in other countries.
“Around the world, women cannot take advantage of biotechnology because of Europe’s hostility to GM crops,” she notes. “This especially affects African women farmers because they are highly dependent on trade with Europe.”
The Kleckner Trade and Technology Advancement Award was established in 2007 in honor of Dean Kleckner, the chairman of Truth About Trade and Technology and former president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The award is given annually in conjunction with the Global Farmer-to-Farmer Roundtable. The first winner of the award was Rosalie Ellasus of the Philippines, the 2008 winner was Jeff Bidstrup of Australia and, in 2009, the award went to Jim McCarthy of Ireland.
For more on Cruz’s views on the need for Europe to adopt biotech crops, go to http://www.truthabouttrade.org/news/editorials/guest-commentary/16778-freedom-to-choose--a-farmers-basic-right.