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GMOs featured in a healthy debate at Berkeley

Pamela Ronald says genetic modification is just as safe as the plant breeding humans have been doing for 10,000 years.
A lecture hall with 700 UC Berkeley students enrolled in "Edible Education 101" heard Pamela Ronald, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, explain her opinion that there is a place for genetically modified organisms in modern agriculture, reported Amanda Little in the New Yorker.

The class' co-instructor, food writer and activist Michael Pollen, said he is still opposed to the use of GMOs in agriculture, but admitted it's getting lonely in his camp. He said he believes GMOs are tending to more firmly establish mono-cropping practices, favor large-scale industrial agriculture and that Roundup resistant crops are leading to the development of Roundup resistant weeds.

"It's a shame to demonize an entire technology because of Roundup Ready,” Ronald said.

In the New Yorker article, Little shared several of Ronald's points:

  • Bt cotton has cut the amount of chemical insecticides applied to crops globally by millions of pounds a year

  • Papayas genetically engineered to resist ring-spot virus helped to save the Hawaiian papaya industry

  • “Scuba rice,” a strain of flood-tolerant rice that can grow in submerged fields, is being grown by four million subsistence farmers in Bangladesh and India

  • The world is filling with ever more people and we need ever more food from the same amount of land

  • Genetic engineering will play a critical role in protecting finite soil and water resources, staving off crop diseases, and responding to the pressures of climate change.
Posted on Monday, April 28, 2014 at 1:15 PM
Tags: GMOs (12), Pamela Ronald (7)

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