Keynote speaker Rob Saik addresses students

Rob Saik

Students who completed their Agriculture Internship Program were celebrated on Monday evening, Nov. 21 at the Acme Community Centre, along with the program’s community partners. There were 31 students from Golden Hills School Division who received their certificate of completion for 2016: four from Trochu, four from Three Hills, five from Acme Tri-Campus, five from Drumheller, 10 from Standard, and three from Strathmore. Students completing the program earn five to 15 credits depending on the number of weeks enrolled in the work place mentorship. They also complete an ag-safety course and participate in Ag-safety Day. Tables were set out with pictures and 66 thank you certificates to recognize partners that included farms, businesses, ranches, cattle companies, Ag-societies, colleges, universities, nurseries, vet clinics, seed cleaning plants, implement dealers, insurance companies and more.
“Non-science is the Greatest Threat to Agriculture”
An important aspect of the evening celebration also included keynote speaker Rob Saik, a professional Agrologist and a Certified Agricultural Consultant, who began as a mixed farmer in Alberta. He is the founder of The Agri-Trend Group of Companies. Rob is an entrepreneur, innovator, educator, author, and recently a movie producer. He earned the 2014 Canadian Agri-Marketer of the Year and today works in Global Business Development, traveling much of the planet working with farmers and agri-business. He is a passionate speaker for agricultural development and technological advances. His biggest question - “Will Agriculture lose significant science to non-science?” He presents the other side of the equation regarding ‘Genetically Modified Organisms’ (GMO’s) and wants everyone to “KNOW GMO”, the advances and technology and have an understanding of them, before the non-science group say “NO to GMO.” He presented footage and highlights from his KNOW GMO documentary, he developed as a full-feature film for release in 2017.
Rob has lots of examples of a world wavering, some humorous and many scary on who wags the tail of agriculture. “You ask why Europe doesn’t allow GMO’s” and yet “49% of all European animal livestock feed is GMO, being imported from South America.” Rob believes, “Canada’s canola crop beats European canola hands down, thanks to bio-engineering. It worked. 90% of hard cheeses in Canada have a GMO coagulant. GMO is not an ingredient; it’s a process.” He further explains that since 2002 golden rice, fortified to help with Vitamin A deficiency (to help prevent blindness in countries experiencing major food shortages), has been kept from the people it would help most. “Hawaii had all but lost their Papaya trees until science and technology stepped in to help cure the virus. Astoundingly, they can now grow Organic Papaya because GMO saved the Papaya.” Rob contends Florida Orange Juice is gone forever and California citrus may soon follow. “Banana plants are being destroyed and need a solution. Mother Nature is cruel. Fungus is moving around the planet, while fanaticism is causing global suffering. It’s food paranoia.” Another example he gives is that 7% of the population are gluten intolerant, and another 7% think they are, but there is a whole market of food products out there now that advertises gluten free.
“It’s a label spin involving big dollars: GMO free, Natural, Organic. $2.5 billion is spent annually through over 300 organizations to create FEAR, and allow them to charge a higher price for their product. We are never so much educated and more fooled as when we walk into a supermarket.”
He contends, “Voices of science are being drowned out. Genetic engineering is helping us through the currents coming at us. The only technology on the horizon is genetic-engineering. Why should the organic movement be able to dictate non-GMO? It makes no sense. We should celebrate the success of agriculture. What is insulin? That injection is keeping a diabetic alive and it is GMO technology.” The achilles heal of Organic farming is nitrogen, a 78% loss in fact. What do they use to control insects? Answer: Pesticides. Without it they’ll have 42% crop decline. People have a romanticized view of agriculture; it’s not 1960 anymore. There is a need for technology. Non-science is the greatest threat to agriculture. Will technology be ripped out of our hands? Will we be ALLOWED to feed nine billion people?
“Facts Not Fear - KNOW GMO”
Rob is so passionate about the ignorance on the topic that sows “Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt.” that he will have a movie out in 2017, “Know GMO”. Check the web site Rob is the executive producer. The film looks at advancements of the use of technology in agriculture.
Everyone attending this evening’s event was given a copy of one of his books “The Agriculture Manifesto” - 10 key drivers that will shape agriculture in the next decade. It’s an easy read of 51 pages that touches on Non-Science, Bioengineering, Market Segmentation, Sensor Technology, 3D Printing, Robotics, Water, Precision Agriculture, Artificial Intelligence, Data, and even How to Get Involved with the Future of Agriculture.
Rob is profoundly optimistic about the ability of agriculture to feed our planet, despite the population growth “Because I see what science and technology are doing to improve our food production and because every day I work with dedicated, passionate people who care deeply about agriculture, the world’s most important industry. Most people believe the hype they see on the five o’clock news. Fear sells. It’s easy to confuse people when you only have fragmented information.” He’s willing to separate the facts from the fiction and you can just send him an email: and he really does enjoy Twitter, follow him @RSaik.