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We have the technology and know-how to feed a growing population in a sustainable way that improves our Earth's environment, protects endangered species, and helps pull the world's poor out of underdevelopment. But we have to keep the engines of innovation firing, finding new technologies and ever more ingenious solutions.
The five graphs below tell the remarkable story of how modern agriculture has dramatically benefited the environment. In large part because of the rapid adoption of advanced biotech and crop protection technologies, the United States has significantly reduced agriculture's impact on such key environmental indicators as soil loss, energy use, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions, while simultaneously boosting yields.
A study published in 2010 by leading researchers at Stanford University found that because of advances in modern agriculture since 1960, we are using half as much land to grow our crops than we would have had to use otherwise.
"Organic" or "natural" food can be a legitimate life-style choice for those who are well off enough to afford it. But there are many misconceptions in the public's mind about what the label "organic" really means, such as the widespread belief that organic farmers don't use pesticides (they do), or that organic food is somehow safer than conventionally-farmed food (it's not).
Biotech is on the verge of delivering plants with greatly improved nutrition, including higher protein content, more vitamins, minerals and healthy fibre, and decreased allergens. Such breakthroughs are essential to feeding the planet's growing population, while preserving the environment.