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The Economist: food biotechnology, pro and con

Posted Nov 16 2010 8:35am

The Economist is hosting a debate :  “Biotechnology: this house believes that biotechnology and sustainable agriculture are complementary, not contradictory.”

The defender: Pamela Ronald, professor of pathology at UC Davis.

In many regions, the use of biotech seeds allows successful organic production, an important marketing niche, by reducing disease spread, while enabling the remaining 97% of agriculture to become more sustainable by reducing insecticide use.

The opposing view: Dr. Charles Benbrook, chief scientist of The Organic Center and former executive director on the National Academy of Science’s Board on Agriculture.

Alternative systems can often increase yields more than GE seeds can. A recent FAO review of sustainable agriculture systems concluded that yields were increased by an average of 79% across eight systems of agriculture, compared with conventional “best practices”.

I got here too late to vote but there are plenty of comments to argue about.  Enjoy!

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