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The results are in: Genetic crop technology tops worldwide ag poll

Agriculture.com Staff 02/05/2010 @ 12:38pm

New technologies and genetic modification will play the key role in feeding the world. This is the view of thousands of farmers from across the globe who gave views on solutions to feeding the world, in a poll led by Farmers Weekly.

The views have been gathered from farmers in every corner of the world's biggest agricultural economies. Working with Agriculture.com, the poll has drawn votes from extensive sheep ranchers in Australia to intensive pork producers in Holland.

From the upland peaks of Scotland to the vast cereal plains of Canada and the U.S. Midwest, farmers have finally had their say on how it should be done. And it's a resounding vote in favor of innovation and technical advances: 37.1% picked new technologies and genetic modification as their favored factor from a choice of five that will be instrumental in how we nourish a growing population.

This was head and shoulders ahead of broader expertise through education and training (20.3%), investment in research and development (18%) and removal of trade barriers (14.7%). Government intervention in food production trailed with less than 10% of the votes.

These splits reflect the opinions of farmers in different nations, although support for new technologies and GM did not receive quite such a clear lead in the UK. The strongest support for this option was seen in the U.S. and Canada, with Canadian farmers strongly advocating removal of trade barriers. Meanwhile there was barely a single vote in favour of government intervention from Australia and New Zealand, and Dutch farmers expressed strong support for education and training.

The result throws open the debate on GM -- should we embrace it as a sustainable solution or beware the technology that may yet turn out to have hollow promises?

"Farmers want access to innovation," says Julian Little, communications and government affairs manager at Bayer CropScience. "It's the same whether it's a farmer in East Anglia or East Africa. They want to try new technologies, to adapt them and to move their farming system on."

Greater access to these is crucial, he believes. "We need to rack up food production without putting our resources in jeopardy. We can't use the business-as-usual model. And allowing farmers access to innovation in some parts of the world and not others is not helpful."

The five key solutions to feeding the world:

  1. Removal of trade barriers
  2. Government intervention in food production
  3. Investment in research and development
  4. Uptake of new technologies and genetic modification
  5. Broader expertise, through education and training

Congratulations to Cynthia DuVal from Enumclaw, Washington, USA, who won tickets to the world cup in South Africa. Her name was drawn from over 10,000 entries to the free prize draw that was sponsored by Bayer CropScience.

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