NABC Report 01: Biotechnology and Sustainable Agriculture—Policy Alternatives

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Published February 15, 1989 by NABC

Biotechnology—the use of an organism or its product(s)—is a centuries old technology. Humans have selected, improved, and used organisms and their products for decades: yeasts for bread, wine and cheese making, domesticated animals and crops for agriculture and food, antibiotics, insulin and other natural therapeutics for health care; and microorganisms for waste treatment and mining. The above examples may be referred to as the old, established or traditional biotechnology in which we have a great deal of familiarity and much favorable experience. In these traditional examples, genetic selection or modification was performed, for the most part, at the organismal level, e.g., plant and animal breeding.

However, the “new" biotechnology of the 1960s and later provides tools for the use of molecular and cellular, in addition to organismal, approaches. Several potential products of this molecular and cellular biotechnology for agriculture, food, and feed uses are at the research and development stage with commercialization expected in the early 1990s. Examples are microbially produced animal growth promotants for increased efficiency of meat and milk production and for improved quality of meat, genetically modified microorganisms for use as biopesticides and growth promotants, and genetically modified crops that are self-protected against insect pests and diseases tolerant to synthetic chemicals such as herbicides or improved in nutritional value.

This report sees the “new” biotechnology as an extension of established biotechnology. It is expected to have a major impact on many human activities, including agriculture and food.

There are strongly divergent views of agricultural biotechnology as our traditional approaches to agriculture are being dramatically changed by this new technology, e.g. Bovine somatotropin (BST, foods produced with decreased or no synthetic chemical pesticides, while animal rights activists are concerned about animal treatment, representing another concern for the agricultural producer.

This meeting gave voice to representatives of various directions and includes presentations on four subject areas of agricultural biotechnology relevant to sustainable agriculture: biopesticides, herbicide-tolerance in plants, disease control in animals, and animal growth promotants. Also presented are recommendations resulting from the workshops where participants discussed the presentations and brought in their points of view.

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  • Item
    Impact of Animal Growth
    Kalter, Robert J. (NABC, 1989-02-15)
    A socially acceptable policy to remove excess capacity in dairy production must be implemented including the removal or price supports. Public income should emphasize education, human services, and social safety nets. This would make for an improved and healthier dairy sector in the long run.
  • Item
    Biotechnology and Sustainable Agriculture—Policy Alternatives
    (NABC, 1989-02-15)
    Biotechnology—the use of an organism or its product(s)—is a centuries old technology. Humans have selected, improved, and used organisms and their products for decades: yeasts for bread, wine and cheese making, domesticated animals and crops for agriculture and food, antibiotics, insulin and other natural therapeutics for health care; and microorganisms for waste treatment and mining. The above examples may be referred to as the old, established or traditional biotechnology in which we have a great deal of familiarity and much favorable experience. In these traditional examples, genetic selection or modification was performed, for the most part, at the organismal level, e.g., plant and animal breeding.
  • Item
    Social and Ethical Implications of Animal Growth Promotants
    Hoiberg, Eric O.; Bulfetta, Gordon; Nowak, Peter (NABC, 1989-02-15)
    Pre-introduction research into the economic and social impacts of new technologies play an important role by identifying institutional barriers to the equitable transfer of new technologies and by providing needed information for better anticipation and structural consequences of their adoption.
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    Environmental, Human and Target Animal Safety Issues of Animal Growth Promotants
    Steele, Norman C.; Zimbleman, Robert G. (NABC, 1989-02-15)
    The farm of the future will be more management intensive, and that management will require a wider range of tools—that is technology—to be successful in producing an abundant safe food supply. Genetic manipulation is the proven environmentally safe way to address production challenges—both economical and environmental.
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    Impact of Animal Growth Promotants on the Meat Industry
    Hayenga, Marvin L.; Buhr, Brian L. (NABC, 1989-02-15)
    It is not necessarily size, but management sophistication that really makes a difference in the successful use of PST. Larger, more specialized operations are more likely to make effective use of this relatively sophisticated technology.
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    Potential Economic Impact of Herbicide-resistant Corn
    Tauer,Loren (NABC, 1989-02-15)
    Early regional adoption of herbicide tolerant crops may be beneficial to the region that uses new technology first.
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    Economic Aspects of Disease Control in Animals
    Kliebenstein, James B.; Hallam, L. Arne (NABC, 1989-02-15)
    Producers need to have healthy management in order to successfully utilize new products and technology, and appropriate management information needs to accompany the introduction of new technologies.
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    Disease Control in Animals
    Curtis, Stanley (NABC, 1989-02-15)
    This presentation details aspect of animal husbandry that remote her health.
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    Environmental, Health and Safety Issues
    Black, Gail (NABC, 1989-02-15)
    The issue of disease control in farm animals has far-reaching implications and cost and benefits must be carefully examined.
  • Item
    Somatotropins
    Baldwin, R. Lee (NABC, 1989-02-15)
    BST (Somatotropin) how it work and what it does.