by Ken Root
Twenty years ago, the first biotech soybeans were introduced by Monsanto. The crop would do one thing others couldn’t: “It would survive being sprayed with roundup”. As a result, the greatest weed killer ever developed was now a selective herbicide. That made the cost of weed control drop and the ease of post emerge application increase.
We have come a long way since 1996 in the development of biotechnology as plants are now stacked with several different genetic alterations. Biotechnology has made farmers more profitable and allowed farm size to increase. It has not been as well received by consumers as the anti GMO movement has caused regulations to be imposed against planting transgenic crops in many countries and labeling foods containing them in the United States.
Shannon Hauf of Monsanto says the milestone is a proud moment for the company. “Farmers adapted these technologies, they were very easily able to see the advantages that they brought to their farms.”
She says biotechnology has brought many benefits to agriculture. Studies have proven insect protected crops alone have brought increases in yield, increases in biodiversity in insects and reduced the need for insecticides. She says as growing up on a farm, she’s seen the benefits firsthand.
As for the next 20 years, she expects to see more significant advances in biotechnology. Hauf says farmers can help the success of biotechnology in the future by telling consumers about the benefits of biotech.
At the twenty year mark, there are four weed species that are resistant to Roundup. Consumers are not convinced the technology benefits them and governments are still scrutinizing each new development to determine if the grain is safe for human consumption.
To learn more about plant biotechnology, go to www.gmoawnsers.com. For more on Monsanto’s biotechnology efforts, go to www.discover.Monsanto.com.