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Monday, January 30, 2012

Technology Has Brought Us A Long Way

I am not a very tech-savvy person. At all. I still don't know how to use Bluetooth and that's been around for about 8 years, maybe more? Anyway, just because I don't understand it doesn't mean I don't appreciate it. Technology has made it easier for parents to teach their children the ABC's at young ages, has improved health care, has globalized  industry and in general has improved our quality of life (although the occasional IT headache does occur). Additionally, technology has made agriculture immensely more productive over time.

What do I mean? Think about it - in the 60's and 70's Norman Borlaug and his associates created new varieties of corn, rice and wheat that vastly improved the amount of food farmers could produce. In some countries of the world, for example in East Africa, food intake went up by 50%. This was achievable with the application of technology.

In his annual letter, Bill Gates highlights these facts and others about the need for technology to feed our growing world. That's right, Bill Gates has gone agvocate. Well, not really but he does make a great case for our industry.

Bill points out that in the 19th century, the majority of the U.S. workforce was in agriculture. Today, less than 2% of people are responsible for all U.S. food production however, in countries like Uganda 75% of the citizens produce the food. U.S. farmers are so productive that the average family spends less than 10% (8.9% in 2009) of their annual income on food. That is a microscopic amount compared to a country like China who in 2009 spent 37% of their income on food.

It's also brought to attention that only $3 billion a year is spent researching the seven most important crops. This amount needs to increase for the sake of our productivity - especially as our climate continues to change which could cause a 25% decrease in the crop yield if we continue to see droughts and floods like this past year. Research into soil science and crop production can help us to be more efficient with our resources, which is especially important with climate change, urbanization and our growing world population. He suggests we need to increase that amount if we want to be able to meet the demand for food over the next 50 years

Before I close, I'd like to share this picture with you. A little Food For Thought, if you will (cliche, I know):

With this picture I'm not trying to say taxes are high, I'm pointing out the extreme affordability of our food supply. We are very blessed in the states to have such 'cheap' food that has been brought about through research, hard working farmers and technology.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

To read Bill Gates full letter, click here. Photo credit from here

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