On the Minds of Media...
Leading up to Commodity Classic this spring, Bayer CropScience once again held its Ag Issues Forum, where top researchers, industry experts and farmers from across the United States provided insights and answers to the tough questions currently facing agriculture. Topics ranged from food waste and global hunger to weed resistance and sustainability programs. When asked what their biggest concern regarding agriculture today was, attendees responded with the following:
• Global food security—40%
• Food prices—23%
• Collaboration with diverse stakeholders—21%
No Controversy Here
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has rejected a lawsuit brought by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and other growers and organizations against Monsanto Company, finding that OSGATA and plaintiffs had engaged in a “transparent effort to create a controversy where none exists.” U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald found that plaintiffs’ allegations were “unsubstantiated ... given that not one single plaintiff claims to have been so threatened.” The ruling also found that the plaintiffs had “overstate[d] the magnitude of [Monsanto’s] patent enforcement,” noting that Monsanto’s average of roughly 13 lawsuits per year “is hardly significant when compared to the number of farms in the United States, approximately two million.”
EU: Patent Exemptions
The European Parliament wants to protect European breeders from excessive patent protection, which it believes could stifle innovation and progress. In a non-binding resolution adopted at the start of May, it says products such as anti-carcinogenic broccoli or high-yield dairy cows produced by conventional breeding techniques should not be patented. MEPs recognize that patents are an important tool for the transfer of technology but stress that “excessively broad patent protection can hamper innovation and progress and become detrimental to small and medium breeders by blocking access to animal and plant genetic resources.”
A Plea for Ag Funding
“As a farmer and a seedsman, my message to our leaders in Washington is that a good crop doesn’t start when I put it in the ground, it starts 10 years before, in my state wheat breeders’ labs and fields,” says Bing Von Bergen, a wheat farmer from Moccasin, Mont., and first vice president of the National Association of Wheat Growers. “Funding for wheat research, and all ag research, is an investment in the future of farming and the future of food.”
Von Bergen was speaking as part of an annual fly-in focusing on wheat research, sponsored by the National Wheat Improvement Committee, NAWG, the North American Millers’ Association and the American Bakers’ Association. The groups gathered recently in Washington, D.C. to deliver the following messages:
• Funding for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service will be down 12 percent since the federal government’s 2010 fiscal year, assuming modest increases proposed in the Obama Administration’s FY2013 budget are adopted.
• In FY2011 alone, $180 million was cut and not restored due to the elimination of earmarked spending.
• A few weeks ago, university researchers learned that funding they receive from ARS would be cut by 30 percent to help cover costs associated with carrying out Congress’ instructions to close 12 labs.
• Despite demonstrated return on investment of up to $32 to $1, just 1.6 percent of the $142 billion annual federal investment in research goes to agriculture research, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.