When Joachim Schneider (Head of Life Sciences for Bayer Crop Science and BIO’s new Chairman for Food & Ag) opened the panel on “Agricultural Production: Meeting the Sustainability Challenge,” he made it clear that today’s challenge is to increase productivity and while dealing with climate change. Will future production keep pace with demand? How can we meet food and fuel challenges? “We need to marry global science with global scale to produce global increases in yield,” says John Pierce of Du Pont Life Sciences. DuPont/Pioneer thinks yields will need to increase no less than 40 percent over the next 10 years for both corn and soybeans. We need a second green revolution. We need government, society, industry and academia to work together, and we need to use all technologies available. Biotech is an essential tool in the toolbox. Biotech presents the greatest opportunity to improve crop yields in Africa, Brazil, East and Southern Asian. But biotech acceptance must remain a global effort. Global food security remains an objective, not an accomplishment. There are multiple benefits of biofuels production: It reduces the need for imported petroleum – which has national security implications – and helps reduce the trade deficit. It can also offset the use of petroleum and chemical-based fuels. For biofuels production, the United States has an advantage in land area and technology. The next generation of biofuels will improve existing ethanol production by increasing feedstocks yields. New fuels (including cellulosics, advanced cellulosic from corn stover and switchgrass) will improve performance. And technological- driven improvements will help increase crop yields. We’ll see massive improvements over the next five years, and we’ll need predictable policy to ensure progress.
--Val GiddingsVal Giddings is a genetics PhD and biotech consultant with nearly 30 years regulatory, media, and policy experience. He was a Vice President for BIO Food & Agriculture from 1997 to 2006. He can be reached at LVG@prometheusAB.com.