Plant geneticist Paul Gepts says polarized GM discussion endangers innovation

Whether you call them transgenic, genetically engineered or GMO crops, the fever-pitched debate about Monsanto misses the bigger picture by a long shot, according to Professor Paul Gepts of the University of California, Davis.

As a plant geneticist with a global understanding of seed varieties, Gepts supports public breeding programs and developing new varieties that benefit the public at large. (He does not receive any funding or compensation from private seed companies, including Monsanto.)

Do you think the discussion around genetically engineered crops is too polarized?

Absolutely. I think it’s just unbelievable. There is no middle ground. You are either completely for it or completely against it. Way too much energy is wasted on a technique that is useful. But it’s by no means the answer to everything.

Is marker-assisted cross-breeding safer than genetic engineering?

The way to judge any technology is to look at it on a case-by-case basis. Take radioisotopes. They can be used to make bombs, and they are also used in medicine. So the issue is, which application are we talking about?

By 2050, there will be 9 billion people. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. Can both transgenics and marker-assisted cross-breeding help us handle our growing population and changing climate?

There have been tremendous yield increases over the last century. Half of the increases can be attributed to improved plant genetics. But the other half comes from other practices which you could call agroecology. You learn how to grow the crop better. There’s definitely going to be a need to increase our agricultural production, but it’s not going to depend only on genetics. These are tools. They are not the goal in itself.

Read the full, original article: Genetic engineering, not GMO’s, is worth debate

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend