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Media summit focuses on ag sustainability, innovation - China Nd YAG Laser Machine by wang dong

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Media summit focuses on ag sustainability, innovation - China Nd YAG Laser Machine by
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Media summit focuses on ag sustainability, innovation - China Nd YAG Laser Machine

Business,Business News,Business Opportunities
The use of new research and innovations to boost farm productivityin a sustainable way, and the need to communicate such goals to theconsuming public, were the focus of a media summit convened herethis week by German chemical giant BASF. At a meeting of roughly 100 journalists and companyrepresentatives, all parties were treated to a series ofpresentations on sustainability and innovation in agriculture.Although some of the themes might be deemed by some to be "oldnews," there was also plenty of fodder for future stories anddebates, courtesy of lively panel discussions and interactivesessions. The bulk of presentations and panels at the 2012 BASF AgriculturalSolutions Media Summit here took place Tuesday, and while mostevents were geared to U.S. farm production, a panel discussion onCanadian developments was also featured, with equal involvement forWestern and Eastern Canada. Two key words, sustainability and innovation, were heard repeatedlyduring the sessions.

Executives with BASF, as well as companyadvisors and field specialists, underscored the importance of theneed to recognize both in the same sentence and within the samevision, particularly sustainability. Video segments presented a common theme of attempting to build thebridge between farmers and consumers, with one segment asking theaverage consumer what they think of "feeding the world."Most of the responses demonstrated little knowledge orconsideration of the issue beyond meeting the food and nutritionneeds of the individual. In the same segment, there was a counter depicting theworld's population in 2010 as 6.9 billion, then increasing tothe oft-cited 9.4 billion by 2050. The next slide noted "Whilewe're busy making more people, Mother Earth isn'tmaking any more farmland." The question is then posed,"Is this sustainable?" Also stated several times during the day, sustainability is nowbeing defined as a balance between producing sufficient food formore people while minimizing any harmful ecological impact, allwhile recognizing the economic needs of consumers and producersalike.

Although it is important to increase production on a global basis,that drive must not come at all costs, particularly where theenvironment's concerned. And while there is a push for safeand abundant food, the farmer must be properly rewarded for his/herexpertise and production, yet not to point where the consumer canno longer afford to eat. During one of the morning sessions, BASF Plant Science divisionpresident Peter Eckes highlighted developments in thecompany's research pipeline. On one slide he noted there areseven different "yield and stress" trait packages onwhich BASF is partnering with Monsanto, including drought-tolerantcorn and higher-yielding canola and wheat. BASF, he said, will be expanding its North American headquarters atResearch Triangle Park in Durham, N.C.

The move acknowledges theadoption of genetically modified cropping systems in North America,where 43 per cent of crops grown in the U.S. are GM. In Canada,seven per cent of all crops are genetically modified. The move alsoputs BASF closer to emerging GM players in Brazil and Argentina,where those percentages are 19 and 15 per cent, respectively. A panel discussion closed out the morning's proceedings, withinput and interaction with the audience, as well as perspectivesfrom extension, food processing, an agricultural dealer/retailer, afarm organization president and a farmer.

Among the many statements to come out of that discussion was anopinion that the farm press can play a bigger role in informingwhat is accepted as a largely unaware, if not ignorant,non-farming, consuming public. Fred Luckey, a former executive with Bunge Milling and now chair ofField to Market, a coalition of members of the food value chain,told representatives of the farm media that they have done asufficient job of telling agriculture's story to theirreaders. However, those readers, from farmers and researchers to extensionpersonnel and industry stakeholders, are the converted; theyalready know what's happening within the agri-food industry.The task before them now, he said, is to find some way to deliverthat message to a wider audience, to those who don'tunderstand modern-day farming and what it means in their dailylives. – Ralph Pearce is a field editor for Country Guide at St.

Marys, Ont. Related story: BASF to focus plant biotech work on Americas, Jan. 19, 2012.

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