Biotech Updates

Biotech Can Help Conservation Agriculture

July 9, 2014

Biotechnology has the potential to help improve soil health, according to David Montgomery, author of Dirt, The Erosion of Civilizations and a professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington. He said this during the World Congress on Conservation Agriculture held on June 22-25, 2014 in Indiana, USA. 

He explained that biotech can help improve soil health, but it is not happening yet. "But I would basically argue that if we reframed how we evaluate agriculture to be towards building soil and building soil fertility, then the degree to which anything, GMO products included, could work towards that goal should be considered," he said. He stressed that biotechnology does not need to be against conservation agriculture; instead they can go hand in hand. For instance, plants could be engineered to facilitate symbiosis with soil bacteria similar to what happens between legumes and rhizobia, he explains.

Furthermore, philanthropist, businessman and farmer, Howard Buffet also believes that biotechnology and conservation agriculture are compatible. "I think we just have to be inclusive and understand that there is a place for everything and that if we can get those things in the appropriate places at the appropriate use, then we're going to have a lot of wins...If all we're going to do is spend our time debating what's good and bad and alienate everybody, and pick sides we're going to lose a lot more than we're going to win," said Buffet.