Food and Land Grant Colleges of Agriculture
Dr. Norman F. Childers, Ph.D.
Much of the biotech food confusion today could be due to
a gradual "demise" of the Land Grant college system in state
universities in the area of food production, research and teaching for
farmers and ultimately the consumers. The Land Grant Colleges of
Agriculture were started by the U.S. Government in 1862 (The Morrill
Act) to teach agriculture and mechanical arts and to assist farmers in
growing more and better crops for better profits. Later, the
agricultural experiment stations and extension services were added to
the LG colleges to bring unbiased research and teaching to
farmers. Over the years, a close relationship between farmers and
the colleges was developed. Since the 1960's, the research in
these colleges has been gradually taken over by big self-interest
grants from corporations working in agriculture, accounting for 60%
of the present college budgets with only 40% coming from public
money. This imbalance should be brought back to its initial status
with the greater funding of LG colleges coming from public money.
This could bring back the trustworthy food research information to
farmers and the general public. Big corporations, with their
enormous grants in the millions of dollars, may have "bought
off" some of the confidence that the public had in the trustworthy
agricultural research from these LG colleges. And some of these
corporations could be making a mistake or two in their power of
recommendations to farmers and the general public.
Another need is for the deans and department heads in these state LG
colleges to be given back the power (by providing adequate public money)
to make their own decisions on how money should be spent on agricultural
research in their respective states, rather than be guided by the
desires of big corporations and by the biased grants committees of
Federal money in Washington, D.C.