Few academics eagerly engage the public on controversial scientific topics, content to quietly focus on their research. Agricultural economist and author Stuart Smyth isn’t among them. No stranger to social media and a frequent contributor to the Genetic Literacy Project, Smyth has consistently worked to translate his detailed books and scholarly publications about crop biotechnology into digestible educational content geared toward a general audience.
In recent years, Smyth has taken on popular myths about GMOs, called for sensible regulation of biotechnology and faced down the activist groups that have attempted to smear him for daring to teach consumers not to be afraid of their food.
On this episode of the Talking Biotech podcast, Smyth joins plant geneticist Kevin Folta to discuss his views on the risks and benefits of GMO crops, arguing that genetic engineering is a safe and thoroughly studied tool that has made our food supply more bountiful. Smyth also answers some tough questions about the ever-present threat posed by pesticide-resistant insects and weeds and how farmers are working to outsmart them.
While pests have always hassled farmers, government biotech rules, especially those in Europe, have created a significant burden in the last few decades for the people who grow our food. Smyth discusses the current situation in the European Union and how scientists are working at a hurried pace to reverse the situation as new technologies come online, most notably tools like CRISPR gene editing.
Stuart J. Smyth is a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and holds the Industry Funded Research Chair in Agri-Food Innovation at the University of Saskatchewan. Follow him on Twitter @stuartsmyth66
The Talking Biotech podcast, produced by Kevin Folta, is available for listening or subscription: