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New Extension Leader To Focus On Food Security

Mike Loizzo

The new head of the Purdue University Extension’s agriculture and natural resources programs says he’ll focus on food security. But that may mean butting heads with activists opposed to genetically-modified crops.

If recent marches against agriculture company Monsanto are any indication, there are plenty of people concerned that too many crops are produced by lab techs first and farmers second.

Mike Schutz knows he’ll encounter these people as head of the Purdue Extension Service’s ag program, but he says it’s a necessary conversation to have when the over-arching topic is how to feed the nine billion people the world could have by mid-century.

“That’s a tightrope that we walk, because our mission is really to be based on delivery of science-based information that’s sound," Schutz says. "And we try to avoid taking political stances on issues, but sometimes we do have to advocate for important concepts such as GMO crops.”

Schutz says Extension educators will also have to reach out to and make friends with more non-farmers – including the Purdue administrators who’ve been cutting budgets system-wide in recent years.

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