July 26, 2011
Just went to a interesting briefing on the corn genome and the future of corn research. Mostly it reinforced my beliefs that the future of the worlds fuel supply will have to be from a constantly developing agriculture. We will have to change adapt to keep up with yield needs and the needs of a growing world. The big issue with plant research is the benefits are not instant they take almost a decade to see depending on the relative speed of the crops growth cycle. This means that R and D for plant and ag research is a huge investment in the future.
Some people would say the future is in sustainable agriculture and with that they apply that this is in a small farm organic system. This may be true for consumers that can afford the high cost that comes with organic food markets. However for the majority of the populace we will have to really on low impact conventional agriculture to feed the world a purely organic arlum system will not be effective we need to combine traditional breeding practices and gene modifications to continue to improve out yield per acre considering land will become less and less plentiful. As with any new technology there is risk but there are enough controls that we can verify its safety and impact.
Some people would say that we are restricting our gene banks by limiting the diversity of plants but in actuality we are creating new diversity as we breed new plants and we also have a USDA program that is a literal Noah’s arc of germplasm for many commercial plants that we grow today. The reason that the government has so much influence on the research and protection of ag species is because it is long term has little profit potential in it starting stages making it difficult to be supported by the private market place.