A farmer from
The organization Truth about Trade and Technology established the Kleckner Award last year, in honor of TATT's founder and chairman—Dean Kleckner. The award seeks to recognize "strong leadership, vision and resolve in advancing the rights of all farmers to choose the technology and tools that will improve the quality, quantity and availability of agricultural products around the world."
Bidstrup lives up to every word in that description. He farms near the town of
Farmers want genetically modified crops
TATT board member and
Wanzek, a wheat farmer, has dealt with trade bans on GM (genetically modified) wheat; for Bidstrup, the challenge was political obstruction for many Australian farmers who wanted to plant GM cotton, canola and other grains.
"We've had biotech cotton for more than a decade," says Bidstrup, who grows grain and cotton on about 12,000 acres in
GM cotton helped farmers overcome pest problems. Bidstrup began to imagine how additional GM research in
Australian states banned GM food crops
For a while, nobody did much of anything. "We all thought someone else would take care of the problem."
As professional activists began getting more media attention Bidstrup thought about the future of his family in agriculture. "I have two sons who want to be farmers. I started worrying about their future in this business. I realized that they aren't going to have one unless somebody does something about all of this anti-biotech nonsense."
So Bidstrup founded Producers Forum, a coalition of livestock and grain farmers who work to educate Australians about the benefits of biotechnology and to repeal moratoriums based on ignorance. Earlier this year, they succeeded in persuading the governments of
Making progress in getting bans lifted
"We've made a lot of progress," says Bidstrup. "We're going to make even more in 2009 and beyond."
Bidstrup's efforts against moratoriums have not been limited to
When Bidstrup learned that he had been named the recipient of the Kleckner Trade & Technology Advancement Award, he noted his honor and delight, but he said it was a journey not traveled alone. "The load has been shared by many, and those people I believe share this award with me. They are the McKays, Kellys, Baldocks, Snookes, Staleys, Fitzgeralds, Crabtrees, Roushs, Prestons, Tribes and many others of the world who have given their all to see good prevail."
The award will be given out annually in conjunction with the World Food Prize. The first recipient in 2007 was Rosalie Ellasus of the