Dr. Ronald is a professor of plant pathology at the University of California, Davis and co-author of Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food. James E. McWilliams is a history professor at Texas State University at San Marcos and author of Just Food.
Ronald and McWilliams note that opponents of GM crops need to stop "demonizing the technology." They need to recognize the benefits that might result from decades of research on new crops that could improve the lives of millions of the poor. These include "drought-tolerant cassava, insect-resistant cowpeas, fungus-resistant bananas, virus-resistant sweet potatoes and high-yielding pearl millet." Other examples cited:
- GM sorghum that is resistant to both drought and the Striga weed.
- GM sorghum that is nutritionally enhanced to increase levels of zinc
- Golden Rice, which is nutritionally enhanced to increase levels of vitamin
- GM potatoes that contain greater amounts of protein.
- GM virus-resistant papaya that will not succumb to the papaya ringspot virus
The authors conclude, "[i]f we fail to invest responsibly in agricultural research, if we continue to allow propaganda to trump science, then the potential for global agriculture to be productive, diverse and sustainable will go unfulfilled. And it’s not those of us here in the developed world who will suffer the direct consequences, but rather the poorest and most vulnerable."
For more see: Ronald, Pamela C. and James E. McWilliams, "Genetically Engineered Distortions," New York Times, Op-Ed, 14 May 2010.
Also see previous blog posts:
National Research Council - The Impact of GE Crops on U.S. Farm Sustainability (1996-Pres.), 13 April 2010.
Drought Resistant Cowpeas on the Horizon, 30 March 2010.
HCIA Video "Seeds of Promise": Benefits For Hawaii, 1 April 2010.
Australia's GE Banana Project, 16 April 2010.
First GM bananas harvested, 18 March 2010.