We hear concerns voiced every day in the industry media about the challenges of drought, the high prices of feed and other inputs, increasing regulation, dwindling cattle numbers, consumer resistance to beef prices, healthy diet implications, etc. The negativity is almost enough to preclude us from remembering all the benefits that science and technology have provided society, and the future benefits that mankind’s ingenuity — if left to function freely — is sure to provide us in the future.

A look at past technology

So what are some of the benefits to the U.S. beef industry, and consumers, as a result of the science and technology of the past?

Many of these benefits have become part of the everyday fabric of modern beef production, and are taken for granted. But consider the great inroads made in the science of feed efficiency of beef production, and improved animal health and welfare, that have allowed decreased land use and environmental improvements, decreased the industry’s carbon footprint, and allowed for greater beef competitiveness and leaner products.

These are real benefits, not unsupported or perceived benefits. Some examples of these technologies include semen preservation and artificial insemination (AI), a definition of nutrient requirements and feed energy systems, feed processing, EPDs, hormonal implants, ionophores, antibiotics, vaccines, parasiticides, estrus synchronization, embryo transfer, ultrasound and in-utero effects of nutrition on carcass composition.

How about the irradiation of beef, both of ground beef and whole carcasses, which could greatly enhance beef safety if promoted by the industry and processors, and accepted by consumers?