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Posted January 19, 2013 by Sean Blackmore in Green Living
 
 

Innovation is key to America’s breadbasket



The vacation season is a good time to recognize the critical contribution of America&rsquos farmers to our quality of life. Agriculture is a challenging organization. Farmers have to cope with production variables outside of their control, such as weather and geography. Yet according to the U.S. Division of Agriculture, America&rsquos 2 million farms are the planet&rsquos most productive, not only feeding our nation, but supplying essential grains and foodstuffs to assist feed other folks around the globe.

American farmers grow about 60 percent of the world&rsquos corn, the USDA Financial Research Service (ERS) reports, and 33 percent of the globe&rsquos soybeans, according to the American Soybean Association. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that Americans import a lot more manufactured goods than we export, resulting in a substantial trade deficit, but our balance of trade in agriculture is positive &ndash and by a huge margin.

&ldquoWe&rsquore a quite productive country. We are a breadbasket for the planet. Half of our soybeans are exported, as well as a lot of our corn, to Europe and Asia. Due to the fact we are capable of creating much more, the balance of trade is very promising,&rdquo says Dr. Thomas Carter, investigation geneticist at the USDA Agricultural Investigation Service. &ldquoWe&rsquore seeing higher technological innovation, from the lab to the field.&rdquo

Beyond providing revenue for farmers, the American Farm Bureau Federation points out that agriculture employs 23 million Americans when you consist of employment resulting from farm to fork, such as manufacturing farm gear and inputs, food processing, transportation and advertising, and retail and wholesale sales. Innovation is important to the success of farming, just as it is for any economic enterprise. Thanks to modern day farming methods, America’s farmers are making far more food than ever before on fewer acres. Amongst current innovations in agriculture is the use of seeds enhanced with biotechnology &ndash employing scientific research to boost the plant&rsquos capability to resist damaging pests, far more properly utilize water, and allow the farmer to control weeds a lot more effectively.

Right now, 88 percent of U.S. corn acreage is planted with biotechnology varieties. The typical yield (bushels per acre) of corn in 2011 was 16 percent higher than in 1996 &ndash the 1st year biotech varieties were planted, according to the ERS. This has enabled farmers to create adequate corn to not only meet our developing demand for food and animal feed, but also to manufacture ethanol that reduces our nation&rsquos dependency on imported oil.

In addition, 93 percent of the U.S. soybean acreage is now planted with biotech varieties. Soybean yields have increased about 10 percent because 1996. And 94 percent of U.S. cotton is now genetically engineered.&nbspThe result is that cotton yields have elevated about 12 percent considering that 1996, the ERS reports.

This has been a specifically hard year for American farmers, who confronted the worst drought given that 1988. They experienced reduced yields, earlier harvests and reduced earnings. There is no total resolution to drought, simply because the reality is that plants need to have water to survive and thrive. But to help alleviate the effects of drought on the U.S. food provide, seed firms have been functioning with farmers across America’s farm belt to make available corn varieties that can boost a crop’s capability to use water far more efficiently and tolerate drought conditions.

Farmers who planted drought-tolerant corn varieties this year say their corn crop appeared to endure the drought much better than other varieties. Even a modest improvement in tolerating drought &ndash just 4 to 8 percent &ndash can have a enormous financial impact when magnified across the broad scope of America&rsquos corn crop. This is encouraging to agriculture scientists, because building plant innovations that boost a crop&rsquos capacity to use water much more effectively is essential to addressing weather conditions in the face of our changing climate.

&ldquoContinued study and breeding, like the use of biotechnology, is important in creating varieties that can survive and sustain financial yields regardless of seasonal droughts and higher temperatures we anticipate in the future,&rdquo says Dr. Kent Bradford, professor and director of the Seed Biotechnology Center at the University of California, Davis.

There is no single remedy to helping farmers grow the food an expanding U.S. and international population needs these days and in the future. But, as in other locations of our economy, science can offer you enhanced seeds and soil inputs, or support farmers conserve the good quality of their land and water resources. Innovation is crucial to ensuring our farmers remain the globe&rsquos most productive, and in turn, keep America&rsquos rural economy strong.

For far more info on the advantages of agricultural biotechnology, pay a visit to www.whybiotech.com.

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Sean Blackmore

 
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