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Novartis Crop Protection Stands Behind Plant Biotechnology

A. H. Tally, Novartis Crop Protection.

Posted 28 June 2000. Plant Health Progress doi:10.1094/PHP-2000-0628-01-PS.

Plant biotechnology has taken a beating in the news media and by environmental groups lately, and the "pro-biotech" voice has barely been heard above the din. We want that to change. Novartis Crop Protection stands firmly behind plant biotechnology and encourages others to join the campaign. It's up to us to spread the word about the many benefits biotechnology brings to our world:

  • Soon, agricultural biotechnology will yield consumer benefits like improved nutrition and more flavorful, higher-quality fruits and vegetables. Already, scientists have developed a strain of golden rice enhanced with beta-carotene and iron that could improve the health of billions of people in developing countries. Biotechnology also has the potential to remove allergens from foods like peanuts, soy and wheat.

  • By increasing yield per acre, it's estimated that biotechnology has protected close to 15 million square miles of wildlife habitat, representing the greatest environmental achievement in human history (1). 

  • Higher yields have also prevented soil erosion by requiring less farmland.

  • Biotechnology will help triple the farm output needed by the year 2050 to keep up with the growing world population.

  • The ability to grow crops in adverse conditions has staggering potential in areas like the tropics. For instance, genetic researchers have found a way to overcome the aluminum toxicity that cuts crop yields by as much as 80 percent in acidic tropical soil. Upon discovering that citric acid ties up the harmful aluminum ions, the researchers introduced a gene for citric acid secretion to tobacco and papaya plants, which then grew unrestricted (1). 

  • Biotechnology has the potential to render crops virtually free from insects, disease and bacteria.

These attributes are real. They're our future. And they're all brought to you by plant biotechnology.  It's unfortunate that misinformation spread by a few activist groups may delay the acceptance of a technology that has the potential to enhance nutrition, reduce starvation and help sustain the environment around the globe.

Novartis—along with other agribusiness companies and farmers worldwide—takes its responsibility for environmental stewardship very seriously. Our biotechnology products meet or surpass the most stringent regulatory standards in existence with agencies such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Despite perceived consumer trends and the recent decision by sister company Gerber to reduce genetically enhanced ingredients in its baby food, Novartis Crop Protection is committed to plant biotechnology, to the safe introduction of genetically enhanced products into the market and to the farmers we serve.  We Back Biotech!


1.  Dennis T. Avery, Director of Global Food Issues, Hudson Institute. "Plants and Population: We have the Time. Do We Have the Will?"