Humanity has been benefiting from plant science innovations since the Egyptians first bred edible corn more than 2000 years ago.
Genetically modified crops are simply the next natural step in plant breeding. Unfortunately, it is non-scientific regulations, in conjunction with some very successful and fear campaigns by activist groups, that have impeded the full benefits of these innovations being delivered to farmers and the community.
Despite the significant annual growth in GM crop adoption (currently about 18 million farmers in 26 countries), we have still not seen the predicted introduction of new crops because of these unnecessary regulatory hurdles and a public discourse on these issues that is anything but fact-based.
In a 2012 survey of the major private sector technology developers, it was found that on average, it costs $US136 million over 13 years to develop a GM crop and take it to market. Most of this cost is in the regulatory science and registration part of the product timeline.
That is not an issue of technology developers not being able to deliver on innovation, but that the regulatory system unnecessarily inhibits the innovation getting to farmers.
The future of agricultural biotechnology is bright; but only if the science can prevail and public policy and regulation is based on facts, not activist falsehoods.
Editor’s note: Matthew Cossey is the CEO of CropLife Australia
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