Biotechnology on the March

March 18, 2010

March 18, 2010

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Wal-Mart Stores, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

As we fought the weather challenge last fall, I couldn’t help but marvel at how the corn was still standing like trees – straight and tall. It was almost Christmas. Thirty or forty years ago, that corn we planted then would have been broken over and on the ground after suffering the severe weather that this past year’s corn took in stride.

The corn we plant now is not my grandfather’s corn. First came hybrid seeds. Then came chemicals to kill insects and pests that prey on your crop. But then came biotechnology.

We all marvel at the internet. Everyone has a cell phone. Well, the technological advancement in crop production is just as remarkable. In the last 25 years, corn production has shot up 40 percent. Other crops have also seen impressive yield increases.

I don’t know for sure where biotechnology is going to take us, but certainly it is going to be an exciting trip. We can count on using less energy, less chemicals, and more production. The number of acres planted to biotech crops is up to 330 million acres. North America, South America, Australia, China, and India are blanketed with biotech crops. Corn, cotton, soybeans, rice, and many more crops are everywhere. Even Europe that has fought the advancement of biotech is grudgingly giving ground.

Recently, the European Union approved the growing of a biotech potato. They plan to open the door this summer to allow their member countries to decide on their own if they want to begin production of genetically modified crops. Stubborn Europe is behind the curve, but they aren’t blind and they can’t ignore where the world is headed.

We need to double crop production in the next 50 years. Innovation and the acceptance of new technology is the only way that we can satisfy the demand for food, feed, fuel, and fiber in the years ahead.

We must not allow the backward-looking critics of modern agriculture to win the day. Our obligation is to the 9 billion people that will be on this planet in 2050.

In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.