Trade and GE Tech

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block.

As much as we would like to – the Ag industry can not escape the week to week and day to day damage that our industry suffers from the ongoing trade fights.  It is just back and forth.  We were hopeful last week when our trade team flew to China to meet with Chinese leadership.  But now the White House reports no deal, no progress.

President Trump has announced an additional 10% tariff on $300 billion of new Chinese imports.  Tariffs to be imposed on Sept 1.  This is not good news.  Our stock market dived 3%. 

Trade negotiations with Japan seem to be making progress.  President Trump hopes to wrap them up when he meets with Japanese Prime Minister Abe in September.

We have at least one positive note.  Europe has agreed over time to allocate to the U.S. 80% of their tariff quota of beef.  The European Parliament needs to approve the agreement.  The deal is limited to hormone-free beef.  The beef industry is happy.  Still, the EU refuses to address other severe restrictions on Ag trade.  President Trump is threatening to levy severe tariffs on their auto exports to the U.S.

I am so tired of talking about trade.  Let me tell you about an article in the Wall Street Journal on a different subject.  It is hard to comprehend how far environmental extremists are willing to go to stop the advancement of new technology.  With malaria killing a child under 5 years old every 5 minutes in the world, you would agree we need a solution.  We have Target Malaria, which is a Gates Foundation supported research project.  They want to develop genetically modified sterile mosquitoes.  With sterile female mosquitoes the result will be a dramatic cut in the mosquito population.  But it’s not so easy.  Radical environmentalists want no part of genetic technology.  They won’t accept it, in spite of the unbelievable contribution it has brought to mankind.  They were against genetically modified golden rice which added vitamin A to rice.

Golden rice has saved millions of lives.  My conclusion – I guess, environmental extremists favor mosquitoes over mankind?

John Block was Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1981-1985, where he played a key role in the development of the 1985 Farm Bill.  If you would like to review his radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to 

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