Podcast: Food 5.0—GMOs, robots and the future of farming with agronomist Robert Saik

weeds
Fighting weeds: Can we reduce, or even eliminate, herbicides by utilizing robotics and AI?

Thanks to dramatic advances in technology, less than 2 percent of the US population works in agriculture today, growing the food the other 98 percent depend on. Such a highly productive farm sector plays an important role in maintaining America’s status as an economic powerhouse, but it’s had a less desirable impact as well: Most consumers don’t know the first thing about farming.

wmptf lnl sy

This knowledge deficit has created an environment in which misinformation about biotechnology, pesticides and animal welfare spreads unabated. A recent study found, for example, that consumers with the poorest understanding of genetic engineering are the most hostile to the technology. As the study authors noted:

Our findings highlight a difficulty that is not generally appreciated. Those with the strongest anti-consensus views are the most in need of education, but also the least likely to be receptive to learning; overconfidence about one’s knowledge is associated with decreased openness to new information. This suggests that a prerequisite to changing people’s views through education may be getting them to first appreciate the gaps in their knowledge.

Under such circumstances, persistent myths about agriculture just won’t go away, no matter how many times they’re debunked by experts, including farmers themselves. The introduction of the herbicide glyphosate in the 1970s, for instance, greatly reduced farmers’ exposure to harmful chemicals, but we continue to see questionable news coverage regarding glyphosate’s cancer risks. We also see continued coverage challenging whether so-called “factory farming” is harmful to our food supply, despite overwhelming evidence that farmers are keeping livestock healthy and productive.

Related article:  GMO ryegrass could help mitigate climate change, but research, regulatory hurdles remain

The public’s ignorance of agriculture, if not addressed, could become an even greater problem. As the world’s population explodes and farmers scramble to meet the resulting boom in food demand, they’ll need the help of technologies including gene editing, robotics and artificial intelligence. These modern tools have already begun to make a positive impact in agriculture, but as they grow more powerful, regulators will need guidance from informed consumers to help ensure that these important innovations are put to use as efficiently as possible, says Robert Saik, author of the new book Food 5.0: How We Feed the Future.

On this episode of Biotech Facts and Fallacies, Saik joins GLP editor Cameron English to discuss the importance of technology in agriculture and explain why it’s vital for the public to understand what’s happening on America’s farms.

Robert Saik, a professional agrologist and certified agricultural consultant, is the founder of Agri-Trend and principal of Saik Management Group Inc., based in Olds, Alberta, Canada. Email him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @RSaik 

Cameron J. English is the GLP’s senior agricultural genetics and special projects editor. He co-hosts the Biotech Facts and Fallacies podcast. Follow him on Twitter @camjenglish

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
can you boost your immune system to prevent coronavirus spread x

Video: How to boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend