- Remarks by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns

Remarks by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns (Excerpts)

“I"d like to also offer my congratulations to this year"s laureates: Alysson Paolinelli, and Edson Labato and Colin McClung. Their work to improve agricultural conditions in regions of Brazil has improved the lives and the livelihoods of countless people. Like past winners, they serve as an inspiration for all of us to ensure a safe and plentiful food supply for all people all across this globe.

Agriculture is one of the essentials of life. It"s the foundation of society. It"s the foundation of civilization. Without an adequate food supply, people have no opportunity to strive beyond anything, beyond mere survival. In the 21st Century, we certainly must aspire to more. At this symposium we"ve been asked how we can replicate the success of the Green Revolution.

We are seeing such amazing successes in the areas of productivity. Research leads us to new technologies that were beyond the imagination.This is a dynamic time in agriculture. That means continuing the great success story of agricultural productivity. In the United States alone productivity just continues to grow year after year by nearly 2 percent each year. We"ve tripled the amount of milk produced by an average cow and quadrupled the amount of corn harvested in a single acre.

We must recognize that the breakthroughs of tomorrow might today be nothing more than experiments that involve a lot of skepticism. These experiments require willingness to invest with really no guarantee that the return will exceed that investment.

For private companies, the risk might be too great regardless of the potential social benefit. That"s why I believe so much in public research and the vital role that it has to play and why it is so enormously important for government and government-funded researchers to stay closely connected to our private sector.

Public research lays the foundation then often pass the torch to the private sector to take it to the finish line in the form of the commercialization of that product. Only then do we realize the broad social benefits [of research].”

*WFP Symposium “The Green Revolution Redux”- Des Moines-IA, October 19, 2006

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