Global food demand is increasing, in spite of waning
agricultural production resources. At the same time, the public in increasingly
interested in food and agriculture production methods, at least partly to
encourage healthy, safe, environmentally sound and sustainable food production
systems. While increased public interest and knowledge of agriculture is
encouraging, the lay public’s level of knowledge of conventional agricultural
systems is disturbingly poor, leading to profound misunderstandings and
somewhat romantic beliefs about how food was, is, and should be, produced.
Combined with a suspicion of corporate involvement in food production and
unrealistic faith in food labels a means of conveying information, new technologies (including biotechnology) that might be used to enhance sustainable
food production are too often rejected as ‘unnatural’, less safe or otherwise less
suitable than conventional or traditional agricultural technologies and
practices. With this background, we’ll
explore some of the issues impacting the role of biotechnology in sustainable
agriculture and food production.