It’s not often the topic of air fresheners comes up at an ag conference, so imagine my surprise when this flashed on a screen during a seminar at Crop World Global 2011: Every year, 2,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized with injuries due to air fresheners.

The statement is true. According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, 2,100 people were hospitalized in 2004 due to injuries related to room deodorizers. The data show that air fresheners pose a serious danger and probably should be banned. We need to protect people from potential injury, no matter how remote. Right?

Let’s look at another statistic from the conference. Over the past 15 years, more than TWO TRILLION meals that contain genetically modified ingredients have been eaten — without a single substantiated food issue.

The main questions about biotech focus on its safety. There is loud opposition to it, and it’s gone from the scientific arena to the political one. We should debate the merits of biotech, but only based on science and economics — not scare tactics.

After all, the Earth has a growing population of 7 billion people who need to be fed on an arable land mass that’s not going to grow. We must produce more food with what we have, not just in the European Union or North America, but the ENTIRE world. There are 400 million farms of less than 5 acres that produce half of the world’s food. That’s where the promise of increased yields from biotech will be the most fruitful.

Biotech can’t provide the answers alone. But putting up hurdles to biotech is taking a vital tool away from agriculture.

If we are serious about removing dangers in society, let’s start with products that have been shown to pose a risk — like air fresheners.