Sen. Lugar: No mandate for genetic modification

The opinion piece by Drs. Herren and Ishii-Eiteman (“Genetically modified crops are not the answer”, The Hill, April 23, 2010) perpetuates a falsehood about the Lugar-Casey Global Food Security Act. Contrary to their assertion, the legislation does NOT include a mandate that U.S. foreign aid be spent on research into genetic modification technology. It does NOT require the use of GM technology by any farmers or government agencies. Under terms of the bill, the use of any technology is left to individual farmers, based on their particular circumstances. To be clear: There is no mandate for GM crops.


GM technology is only mentioned one time in the bill, and that provision simply says that research on biotechnology, including GM, would be eligible for U.S. assistance.

Also, contrary to another allegation, the provision was NOT inserted as a result of industry lobbying, by Monsanto or any other company. It is there because I, many experts, including the late Dr. Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution, and millions of farmers around the world believe that all types of advanced technology, whether traditional, biotech or GM, must be available if we are to double farm output to feed the planet’s projected 9.2 billion people, using roughly the same amount of cultivated land we have today, probably with less water.  Raising food production without major gains in output per acre would necessarily lead to substantial forest destruction.

As the authors correctly note, the Lugar-Casey bill helps focus U.S. foreign assistance on hunger and streamlines the aid process with an emphasis on long-term agricultural development.  We should not let all those benefits be overshadowed by a canard regarding nonexistent “mandates.”