Genetically modified crops and growth hormones are nothing to be afraid of. That’s what agricultural writer and radio host Trent Loos believes.
Loos grew up on a farm in Quincy, Illinois and now raises cattle, hogs, horses and goats on his ranch in central Nebraska. He was invited to speak by faculty form Western Illinois University's College of Agriculture.
Loos said he thinks farmers and ranchers haven't done enough to get the public to understand the benefits of modern agriculture.
"In the 18th century it required five acres of land to produce enough food to sustain one human life for a year," Loos said, "and thanks to the implementation of the science and technology that has come about through research at universities like Western Illinois University, we now have one half-acre of land producing enough food to sustain a person for a year."
He said that he supports technologies like genetically modified crops and the wide spread use of growth hormones and antibiotics. He calls these practices safe and necessary to feed a population that's growing rapidly and by many estimates will reach 9 billion people by 2050.
He considers the distrust and are opposition to these practices a matter of people lacking education and understanding of the topics.
"I don't believe any of it is valid scientific concerns, I believe it is the emotion of the day," Loos said.
He adds that people are stuck in out-dated way of thinking about farming, in what he calls an "American Gothic" type of mindset.
Loos says that people who respond to concerns about modern agriculture by resorting to local and organic agriculture are free to make that choice and he celebrates their ability to do so. However he does not think it is viable on a large scale.
"Local food is a wonderful choice, it's terrible food policy," Loos said.
He cites the European union which Loos said now has to import a large amount of it's food and has seen food prices rise dramatically as an a result of limiting modern agricultural technologies like GMO's.
When asked about the health risks associated with modern agriculture, like the over -consumption of processed foods causing extreme weight gain, Loos didn't think certain foods could be blamed.
He agreed that America is facing an obesity epidemic but said processed foods are not to blame, but instead Americans' lack of physical activity.
"Its directly tied to sedentary lifestyles," Loos said, "it has nothing to do with white potatoes it has everything to do with couch potatoes."
Loos said that he welcomes those who disagree with him and is eager to discuss the issues with those who don't share his beliefs.
Trent Loos is a published author and radio host. He also travels the US and abroad and gives speeches advocating traditional agriculture.