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SPOTLIGHT
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Rising to the challenge

Published on -9/7/2012, 10:36 AM

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As the world population continues to rise, the likelihood of a worldwide food crisis increases. The planet now holds more than 7 billion people and that number is expected to reach 9 billion in the next 40 years. In order to prevent widespread famine, both within the United States and abroad, our farming communities must rise to the challenge. To do so will require the advancement of farming technology and a revolution in the agriculture industry as a whole.

In recent years, agricultural engineers have been testing and manufacturing genetically superior seeds with enhanced traits such as increased resistance to pests, drought, and disease. These modified seeds present a unique opportunity for American farmers to reap more abundant harvests from their land, and thus providing for the world's growing population.

Unfortunately, the agriculture industry currently lacks a policy framework to bring many of these new seed traits into an expanded and more competitive marketplace after their patents have expired. This could lead to improved world long-term food security. Those who object to this suggestion do so out of the desire to protect their own interests. The reality is that reducing restrictions on seed patents limits the achievement that can be shared by the entire community through an increased production of food. Additionally, the commercialization of these seeds will encourage further innovation and stronger competition, driving the American economy to excel internationally.

The U.S. agricultural community has progressed significantly due to the American work ethic and consistently studying and using technological advances to increase quality and quantity of their food and fiber to meet the consumption needs of their communities and the entire country. American agriculture has also boosted our overall economic security by creating a positive trade balance between the United States and foreign nations. Continued development and use of several types of technology will ensure our position as a major agricultural source for years to come.

The crops yielded from new single and multi trait seeds are the foundation of our food security. The current drought throughout our country exemplifies the need for drought tolerance in our plants. Pest resistance has also been a blessing due to the increased pest infestation this year. This will be enhanced through a new policy framework. Without a solid foundation of crops, the daily welfare and health of our communities cannot be accounted for. Farmers should be empowered through policies that will better equip them to satisfy the increasing demand for food while strengthening our economy for the future.

The sooner we can all agree to a framework, the better prepared the agriculture community will be to face the global food crisis that soon will be at our doorstep.

Helen Norris, Wellington, American Farm Bureau Women's leadership committee and head of Kansas Women's Farm Bureau Leadership

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