“I feel my greatest achievement in 46 years in agriculture was how much healthier my soil became throughout the years,” says Menzies, who for decades raised wheat, barley, canola, field peas, lentils, chickpeas and spice crops on his 5,000-acre farm near Alberta, Canada.
But he doesn’t personally take the credit: “I attribute this to modern farming practices of reduced tillage, better weed and insect control made possible through advances in biotechnology.”
As an early adopter of sustainable farming practices, Menzies has advocated for agricultural innovation on behalf of industry groups and as a member of Canada’s parliament. Menzies is particularly keen to ensure that farmers across the globe can enjoy the same biotech benefits as he.
“The broader the access worldwide to acceptance and adoption of biotech crops, the less hunger will rule the developing world,” Menzies says. “The last thing farmers in these countries want is our charity. Give them the ability through biotech to grow food for themselves and their neighbors.”
But Menzies understands that farmers don’t operate in a vacuum.
“Public trust is becoming the greatest challenge to food production around the globe,” he observes. “Farmers need to be prepared to show that today’s food production is safe, and our production methods are sustainable for generations to come.”
To that end, he’s chairing a two-year process to develop a “code of practice” that will govern the cultivation of grains and oil seeds in Canada and restore public trust “that our farming practices are safe for humans, wildlife and the environment and will remain sustainable.”