Where Would We Be Without Biotechnology? An Interview with Julie Borlaug

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Another day, another petition pushing for a ban of biotechnology in a region. The latest that crossed my desk is one out of Prince Edward Island, seeking support to convert the entire island-province to organic production, banning GMOs and non-organic-approved pesticides.

There’s choosing not to consume GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or support conventional agriculture — a valid choice — and then there’s removing others right to either choose this system or choose to use this technology on their farms — which I don’t see as valid. As consumers and farmers, I think we should continue to have that choice.

But there is a third aspect to the “let’s ban GMOs!” conversation: we’re a privileged lot, for the most part, in North America. What impact does the biotechnology backlash here have on developing countries or areas of constant famine? To bring it back home — what happens if we eliminate genetic modification as an option for crop advancement here in North America?

Related: What will your agriculture legacy be? A look at Borlaug 100

To begin to find answers to those questions (there are no simple answers, you see, and this is a topic I plan to tackle from a few angles — stay tuned!), I turned to Julie Borlaug, associate director for external relations for the Norman E. Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M. In the audio interview below, Ms. Borlaug and I discuss not just the history of technological advancements in agriculture, but also the very real crop threats both here at home and in growing regions all over the world.

If you cannot see the embedded player click here to hear this interview.

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