Film promotes GM benefits

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Jenne BrammerCountryman
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Canadian-based farm consultant and agrologist, Robert Saik is developing a documentary film promoting the benefits of genetically modified cropping, which he aims to release globally in 2017.

Mr Saik, who was keynote speaker at the Grains Research updates, is a passionate global advocate for scientists and the research and development underpinning agricultural production. He travels the world advocating the importance of supporting modern agriculture, its scientists and the innovations behind food production.

Mr Saik told delegates he was producing a documentary with his filmmaking son called Know GMO — the movie.

“It’s a project designed to bring attention and information to urbanites and schoolchildren about what is really going on in agriculture — that GMO technology has been a benefit to people all across the world,” he said.

“We need to change the conversation from ‘no GMO’ to ‘know GMO’.”

Mr Saik said he had so far raised $850,000 Canadian dollars from farmers and farm organisations to finance the film. Another half a million was necessary but the group would not pursue big corporates. The objective was to get the film onto Netflix for release in 2017.

He said the anti-science movement was one of the biggest threats to modern farming and world food security.

“I believe the anti-science movement is a major threat to global food security and the voices of science are being drowned out by the voices of fear and paranoia,” Mr Saik said.

“The ability to feed people across the world already exists and we need the public to celebrate the accomplishments of fertilisers, pesticides and genetic engineering in boosting agricultural production, while also providing more sustainable ways of farming.”

“So when I am asked the question can agriculture feed nine billion people — that’s not the question. the right question is will be be allowed to feed nine billion people.”

Mr Saik is the founder of The Agri-Trend group of companies in Canada and has driven several big advances in technology integration in agriculture. This includes the development of online farm data management system The Agri-Data Solution.

His technical strengths are in soil chemistry, plant physiology and crop nutrition — for which he is known in Canada as a leading agrologist (the area of soil science dealing with crop production).

Mr Saik’s keynote address was closely aligned to his 2014 book The Agricultural Manifesto — 10 Key Drivers That Will Shape Agriculture in the Next Decade — the main being non-Science.

He said some of the underlying forces likely to impact on the agricultural sector and farmers to the year 2026 included:

Activism, fanaticism or “AGtivism”, where the voices of fear drown the voices of reason and there is a clear and present danger to the science employed in agriculture.

Bio-Synthesis focusing on nutrient dense foods, rather than sugar dense foods.

GMO, bio-fuels and GMO organic crops that fight insects, diseases and require less fertilisers or pesticides.

Market segmentation and niches based on trait-based sales and containerised direct shipments to meet buyer specifications.

Sensor technology for water moisture and nutrients and remote monitoring using satellites, drones and robotics.

3-D printing where parts and construction can be localised and in real time.

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