Pamela Ronald: The case for engineering our food

I am a plant geneticist.
I study genes that make plants
resistant to disease
and tolerant of stress.
In recent years,
millions of people around the world
have come to believe
that there’s something sinister
about genetic modification.
Today, I am going to provide
a different perspective.
First, let me introduce my husband, Raoul.
He’s an organic farmer.
On his farm, he plants
a variety of different crops.
This is one of the many
ecological farming practices
he uses to keep his farm healthy.
Imagine some of the reactions we get:
“Really? An organic farmer
and a plant geneticist?
Can you agree on anything?”
Well, we can, and it’s not difficult,
because we have the same goal.
We want to help nourish
the growing population
without further destroying
the environment.
I believe this is the greatest
challenge of our time.
Now, genetic modification is not new;
virtually everything we eat
has been genetically modified
in some manner.
Let me give you a few examples.
On the left is an image
of the ancient ancestor of modern corn.
You see a single roll of grain
that’s covered in a hard case.
Unless you have a hammer,
teosinte isn’t good for making tortillas.
Now, take a look at
the ancient ancestor of banana.
You can see the large seeds.
And unappetizing brussel sprouts,
and eggplant, so beautiful.
Now, to create these varieties,
breeders have used many different
genetic techniques over the years.
Some of them are quite creative,
like mixing two different species together
using a process called grafting
to create this variety
that’s half tomato and half potato.
Breeders have also used
other types of genetic techniques,
such as random mutagenesis,
which induces uncharacterized mutations
into the plants.
The rice in the cereal
that many of us fed our babies
was developed using this approach.
Now, today, breeders have
even more options to choose from.
Some of them are extraordinarily precise.
I want to give you a couple examples
from my own work.
I work on rice, which is a staple food
for more than half the world’s people.
Each year, 40 percent
of the potential harvest
is lost to pest and disease.
For this reason,
farmers plant rice varieties
that carry genes for resistance.
This approach has been used
for nearly 100 years.
Yet, when I started graduate school,
no one knew what these genes were.
It wasn’t until the 1990s
that scientists finally uncovered
the genetic basis of resistance.
In my laboratory, we isolated a gene
for immunity to a very serious
bacterial disease in Asia and Africa.
We found we could engineer the gene
into a conventional rice variety
that’s normally susceptible,
and you can see the two leaves
on the bottom here
are highly resistant to infection.
Now, the same month
that my laboratory published
our discovery on the rice immunity gene,
my friend and colleague Dave Mackill
stopped by my office.
He said, “Seventy million rice farmers
are having trouble growing rice.”
That’s because their fields are flooded,
and these rice farmers are living
on less than two dollars a day.
Although rice grows well
in standing water,
most rice varieties will die
if they’re submerged
for more than three days.
Flooding is expected
to be increasingly problematic
as the climate changes.
He told me that his graduate student
Kenong Xu and himself
were studying an ancient variety of rice
that had an amazing property.
It could withstand two weeks
of complete submergence.
He asked if I would be willing
to help them isolate this gene.
I said yes — I was very excited,
because I knew if we were successful,
we could potentially help
millions of farmers grow rice
even when their fields were flooded.
Kenong spent 10 years
looking for this gene.
Then one day, he said,
“Come look at this experiment.
You’ve got to see it.”
I went to the greenhouse and I saw
that the conventional variety
that was flooded for 18 days had died,
but the rice variety that we
had genetically engineered
with a new gene we had discovered,
called Sub1, was alive.
Kenong and I were amazed and excited
that a single gene could have
this dramatic effect.
But this is just a greenhouse experiment.
Would this work in the field?
Now, I’m going to show you
a four-month time lapse video
taken at the International
Rice Research Institute.
Breeders there developed
a rice variety carrying the Sub1 gene
using another genetic technique
called precision breeding.
On the left, you can see the Sub1 variety,
and on the right
is the conventional variety.
Both varieties do very well at first,
but then the field is flooded for 17 days.
You can see the Sub1 variety does great.
In fact, it produces
three and a half times more grain
than the conventional variety.
I love this video
because it shows the power
of plant genetics to help farmers.
Last year, with the help
of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,
three and a half million farmers
grew Sub1 rice.
Thank you.
Now, many people don’t mind
genetic modification
when it comes to moving rice genes around,
rice genes in rice plants,
or even when it comes
to mixing species together
through grafting or random mutagenesis.
But when it comes to taking genes
from viruses and bacteria
and putting them into plants,
a lot of people say, “Yuck.”
Why would you do that?
The reason is that sometimes
it’s the cheapest, safest,
and most effective technology
for enhancing food security
and advancing sustainable agriculture.
I’m going to give you three examples.
First, take a look at papaya.
It’s delicious, right?
But now, look at this papaya.
This papaya is infected
with papaya ringspot virus.
In the 1950s, this virus
nearly wiped out the entire production
of papaya on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.
Many people thought
that the Hawaiian papaya was doomed,
but then, a local Hawaiian,
a plant pathologist
named Dennis Gonsalves,
decided to try to fight this disease
using genetic engineering.
He took a snippet of viral DNA
and he inserted it
into the papaya genome.
This is kind of like a human
getting a vaccination.
Now, take a look at his field trial.
You can see the genetically
engineered papaya in the center.
It’s immune to infection.
The conventional papaya around the outside
is severely infected with the virus.
Dennis’ pioneering work is credited
with rescuing the papaya industry.
Today, 20 years later, there’s still no
other method to control this disease.
There’s no organic method.
There’s no conventional method.
Eighty percent of Hawaiian papaya
is genetically engineered.
Now, some of you may still feel a little
queasy about viral genes in your food,
but consider this:
The genetically engineered papaya
carries just a trace amount of the virus.
If you bite into an organic
or conventional papaya
that is infected with the virus,
you will be chewing on tenfold
more viral protein.
Now, take a look at this pest
feasting on an eggplant.
The brown you see is frass,
what comes out
the back end of the insect.
To control this serious pest,
which can devastate the entire
eggplant crop in Bangladesh,
Bangladeshi farmers spray insecticides
two to three times a week,
sometimes twice a day,
when pest pressure is high.
But we know that some insecticides
are very harmful to human health,
especially when farmers and their families
cannot afford proper protection,
like these children.
In less developed countries,
it’s estimated that 300,000 people
die every year because of
insecticide misuse and exposure.
Cornell and Bangladeshi scientists
decided to fight this disease
using a genetic technique that builds
on an organic farming approach.
Organic farmers like my husband Raoul
spray an insecticide called B.T.,
which is based on a bacteria.
This pesticide is very specific
to caterpillar pests,
and in fact, it’s nontoxic
to humans, fish and birds.
It’s less toxic than table salt.
But this approach
does not work well in Bangladesh.
That’s because these insecticide sprays
are difficult to find, they’re expensive,
and they don’t prevent the insect
from getting inside the plants.
In the genetic approach, scientists
cut the gene out of the bacteria
and insert it directly into
the eggplant genome.
Will this work to reduce
insecticide sprays in Bangladesh?
Last season, farmers reported they were
able to reduce their insecticide use
by a huge amount, almost down to zero.
They’re able to harvest
and replant for the next season.
Now, I’ve given you a couple examples
of how genetic engineering can be used
to fight pests and disease
and to reduce the amount of insecticides.
My final example is an example
where genetic engineering
can be used to reduce malnutrition.
In less developed countries,
500,000 children go blind every year
because of lack of Vitamin A.
More than half will die.
For this reason, scientists supported
by the Rockefeller Foundation
genetically engineered a golden rice
to produce beta-carotene,
which is the precursor of Vitamin A.
This is the same pigment
that we find in carrots.
Researchers estimate that just one cup
of golden rice per day
will save the lives
of thousands of children.
But golden rice is virulently opposed
by activists who are
against genetic modification.
Just last year,
activists invaded and destroyed
a field trial in the Philippines.
When I heard about the destruction,
I wondered if they knew that they
were destroying much more
than a scientific research project,
that they were destroying medicines
that children desperately needed
to save their sight and their lives.
Some of my friends and family still worry:
How do you know genes
in the food are safe to eat?
I explained the genetic engineering,
the process of moving
genes between species,
has been used for more than 40 years
in wines, in medicine,
in plants, in cheeses.
In all that time, there hasn’t been
a single case of harm
to human health or the environment.
But I say, look, I’m not
asking you to believe me.
Science is not a belief system.
My opinion doesn’t matter.
Let’s look at the evidence.
After 20 years of careful study
and rigorous peer review
by thousands of independent scientists,
every major scientific organization
in the world has concluded
that the crops currently
on the market are safe to eat
and that the process
of genetic engineering
is no more risky than older methods
of genetic modification.
These are precisely the same
organizations that most of us trust
when it comes to other
important scientific issues
such as global climate change
or the safety of vaccines.
Raoul and I believe that, instead of
worrying about the genes in our food,
we must focus on how we can help
children grow up healthy.
We must ask if farmers
in rural communities can thrive,
and if everyone can afford the food.
We must try to minimize
environmental degradation.
What scares me most about
the loud arguments and misinformation
about plant genetics
is that the poorest people
who most need the technology
may be denied access because of
the vague fears and prejudices
of those who have enough to eat.
We have a huge challenge in front of us.
Let’s celebrate scientific
innovation and use it.
It’s our responsibility
to do everything we can to help
alleviate human suffering
and safeguard the environment.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Chris Anderson: Powerfully argued.
The people who argue against GMOs,
as I understand it, the core piece
comes from two things.
One, complexity and
unintended consequence.
Nature is this incredibly complex machine.
If we put out these brand new genes
that we’ve created,
that haven’t been challenged
by years of evolution,
and they started mixing up
with the rest of what’s going on,
couldn’t that trigger some kind
of cataclysm or problem,
especially when you add in
the commercial incentive
that some companies have
to put them out there?
The fear is that those incentives
mean that the decision is not made
on purely scientific grounds,
and even if it was, that there would be
unintended consequences.
How do we know that there isn’t
a big risk of some unintended consequence?
Often our tinkerings with nature
do lead to big, unintended consequences
and chain reactions.
Pamela Ronald: Okay,
so on the commercial aspects,
one thing that’s really important
to understand is that,
in the developed world,
farmers in the United States,
almost all farmers, whether
they’re organic or conventional,
they buy seed produced by seed companies.
So there’s definitely a commercial
interest to sell a lot of seed,
but hopefully they’re selling seed
that the farmers want to buy.
It’s different in the
less developed world.
Farmers there cannot afford the seed.
These seeds are not being sold.
These seeds are being distributed freely
through traditional kinds
of certification groups,
so it is very important
in less developed countries
that the seed be freely available.
CA: Wouldn’t some activists say that this
is actually part of the conspiracy?
This is the heroin strategy.
You seed the stuff,
and people have no choice
but to be hooked on these seeds forever?
PR: There are a lot of conspiracy theories
for sure, but it doesn’t work that way.
For example, the seed that’s being
distributed, the flood-tolerant rice,
this is distributed freely
through Indian and Bangladeshi
seed certification agencies,
so there’s no commercial interest at all.
The golden rice was developed through
support of the Rockefeller Foundation.
Again, it’s being freely distributed.
There are no commercial profits
in this situation.
And now to address your other question
about, well, mixing genes,
aren’t there some unintended consequences?
Absolutely — every time
we do something different,
there’s an unintended consequence,
but one of the points I was trying to make
is that we’ve been doing
kind of crazy things to our plants,
mutagenesis using radiation
or chemical mutagenesis.
This induces thousands
of uncharacterized mutations,
and this is even a higher risk
of unintended consequence
than many of the modern methods.
And so it’s really important
not to use the term GMO
because it’s scientifically meaningless.
I feel it’s very important to talk
about a specific crop
and a specific product, and think about
the needs of the consumer.
CA: So part of what’s happening here
is that there’s a mental model
in a lot of people that nature is nature,
and it’s pure and pristine,
and to tinker with it is Frankensteinian.
It’s making something that’s pure
dangerous in some way,
and I think you’re saying
that that whole model
just misunderstands how nature is.
Nature is a much more chaotic
interplay of genetic changes
that have been happening
all the time anyway.
PR: That’s absolutely true, and there’s
no such thing as pure food.
I mean, you could not spray
eggplant with insecticides
or not genetically engineer it,
but then you’d be stuck eating frass.
So there’s no purity there.
CA: Pam Ronald, thank you.
That was powerfully argued.
PR: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

  1. It's interesting that TedX plasters warnings all over videos such as the one by Dr. Terry Wahls, which puts forward life-saving information about the benefits of a natural diet, but refuses to post warnings on highly deceptive and misleading videos like this one, that try to prettify companies that are profiteering from polluting the human food supply, and support their propaganda that they are helping to "feed the world." The question is, feed them what? Genetically engineered franken-foods, from plants that have to be soaked in Roundup and other carcinogenic chemicals to reach out dinner plates?

    This is exactly what Monsanto is doing, they know almost nothing about the 40,000 chemical compounds in produce? And yet they are moving from conventional genetic modification, to gene editing…This is "INSANE MONSANTO SCIENCE!"
    —Read this simple statement below and become very afraid of what it says about the GMO science at Monsanto?…
    "How are Phytonutrients Classified?"
    "Some researchers estimate up to 40,000 phytonutrients will someday be fully cataloged and understood. In just the last 30 years, many hundreds of these compounds have been identified and are currently being investigated for their health-promoting qualities."
    What is the Special Nutritional Power found in Fruits and Vegetables?
    Simply put, phytonutrients are active compounds in plants that have been shown to provide benefit to humans … The major classes of phytonutrients include

  3. Düşünüyordum da , Genetiği değiştirilmiş organizmalar uyuşturucuya karşı savaşta kullanılabilirler mi? Mesela sadece uyuşturucu yapımında kullanılan bitkiyi yemekten haz alan genetiği değiştirilmiş böcekler gibi çünkü böcekler her yerde olabilirler.

  4. I am from Bangladesh. Thank you for what you have been doing. We are working on public awareness from a non-profit front which also includes among other things to introduce scientific understanding against irrational fears against GMOs. We would be happy to collaborate with you.

  5. Indian farmers killed themselves in great numbers thanks to GMO cotton from Monsanto. I dont believe in GE foods and all the mafia around. Studies have shown that are not good SO PLEASE LADY SHUT THE F. UP and please lets have GMO labelling just like European countries.

  6. She made it so simple to understand. I love how she backed her position with examples that have proved to be beneficial to humans health and good for the environment.

  7. The only thing I demand of them is labeling the products. Do not put our reaction as an excuse; they foment ignorance by depriving us of information, they seem churches a few centuries ago.
    Also, their arguments are always the same: Children, farmers, hunger and third world when the real problem is on the distribution, law, corrupt governments, education, non-diversified economies… It's much more complex and you can't focus only on one thing and sell us your product as the solution for everything. The more you produce, the fatter we get and those you use as an argument to continue depriving people of information in order to sell, still hungry and poor. They sell their production even cheaper anyway.

  8. [Insert naturalistic fallacy here]
    [Insert organic doesn't use pesticides here]
    [Cite obviously biased source here]
    [Call me a shill]
    [Enjoy your poison]
    [Insert something about god here]
    [Misspell glyphosate]
    [Science has been wrong before]
    [Cite cherry picked/disproved study here]

  9. 'The scientists sow it directly into the plant genome.' So how do they do this? Someone please tell me how this is 'surgically' done. They tried that and didn't get this to work. As far as I know, and I could be wrong, this is not correct. If I'm wrong someone explain that to me and why they use a gene gun to insert the dna. Nothing surgical about that. It's more like a monte carlo experiment and suck it and see approach. The dna is put 'somewhere' on the dna. Also, its not known what all the dna actually does. In our bodies, for example, we have 'junk dna'. Junk? yeah right. You mean we don't know if its used for anything – so it must be junk, right?
    When these things are tested, and I'm sure there's a lot of testing, how can you test for epigenetic conditions when you don't know what conditions will affect what. You just can't. 
    This Golden rice thing – if someone has a vitamin deficiency give them a vitamin – or better still some food with that vitamin. Creating this technology just to put in a vitamin in there is overthinking the issue and coming up with an unnecessary solution. How much rice do you need to eat to get the correct rda of vitamin? A bowl. Nice if you sell rice mind you.

  10. Very informative. Any skeptics should also take a look at the Food Evolution documentary narrated by Neil Degrasse Tyson

  11. Food for thought….. The plants the GMO's are replacing are being replaced because they were unable to withstand certain diseases that nearly wiped out the whole crop populations. Now these plants were unable to protect themselves from these diseases not because they are weak plants or because Mother Nature made a mistake but because these crops are being grown in over tilled lifeless dirt without a soil food web to provide them with what they truly need to grow as strong plants. Maybe instead of trying to change the plant, you should try changing your growing practice. " My husband is an organic farmer" that's this lady's (Pamela Ronald) qualifying statement. He must not be a very good one if by this time, he still hasn't convinced her that a living soil web is the key and not Genetic Modification. I would love to see this lady have a conversation with Dr. Elaine Ingham. Boy I would love to see that!!!!!

  12. I think the major reason for coming up with this technology was to increase food production but the angle it has taken it's monetary oriented with the expense of Human Health

  13. I love the part where a TED talk host starts sperging bullshit to lecture a biologist about the complex intricacies of nature.

  14. If majority of the foods are GMO no wonder why everybody is sick. As a plant geneticist you should see the correlation! Or do you negate the correlation for capitalism? These disease resistant genes are manifesting in the bodies that eat them creating antibiotic resistance.

  15. She smartly starts the presentation, organic (husband) to mmmm GMO (husband). Depopulate the 3rd world countries. Ok, start from Bill Gates and his family eat all GMO foods.
    She said GMO has been used for 40 years, then why is sick people & mortality rate rising every year?
    Nature is the best!

  16. You are deliberately conflating Genetic Engineering with Selective breeding which are completely different things!.Also we already grow enough food to feed 10 BILLION people, just 75% of grain and Legumes are fed to the 10 animals that exist for every man, woman and child!. We NEED to move to our natural plant diet to be Sustainable!.

  17. Boy she loves to compare selective breeding with GMO… or grafting?. Lies, lies and more lies. What does she think when someone puts something not so good into the gene pool?

  18. I wonder if the Rockefeller’s would still be behind this if they were unable to hold patents on those seeds? I think not.

  19. GMOs are not bad, the problem is when u use non organic base pesticides, insecticides. That poisons the food, the meat, the soils. Kills everything in time, and does not disappears for years.

  20. Safety first. Ninety days is not enough to prove that the process is safe. Cane Toads are also "Natural". Did not work out that well for Australia.

  21. Golden rice failed:

  22. The intentions are good – using the world population as lab rats not good. The statement "No proof of harm to humans" goes well with the question "What happens to a frog that is boiled slowly in water?"

  23. If it's safe why are the corporations backing the research no releasing more safety studies and sponsoring more independent research into safety?

  24. Кукуруза это Два разных сорта,культурный и дикий,гмо не плодоносит обычно говорят, а этот культурный сорт кукурузы плодоносит из нормальной семечки, где Доказательство, что этот культурный сорт вывели из дикой?

  25. Сказка словестная без Доказательств, и спасибо этим Гмо продуктам наверно пожелать за Рак, и назревают Сомнения, что Ведущая, Сама потребляет эти мутанты

  26. If this was the case, drop ALL patents and share the knowledge – open source. There will always be a profit motive involved for those 'big players' in GMO food.

  27. The Seralini studies were ALL DEBUNKED PERMANENTLY by a huge 7 year long EU project to systematically repeat the Seralini findings. No study is factual if it can not be repeated and the EU thought they would settle the controversy forever by investigating Seralini's accuracy. Their faces turned red as it became obvious every one of his faked quack studies funded by organic farmers turned out to be flawed and bogus. Seralini is fucked forever as history records hims as this century's top quack fraud:

  28. GMO not good for consumption anyone. GMO effects will come to know from long period. There is solution for all by naturally. The problem is in human mind only..

  29. Пристрелите эту суку вместе с мужем иначе планете конец.

  30. "…without further destroying the environment…" Which, by the way, is EXACTLY the opposite of what's happening. The hubris in thinking man knows better than what occurs in nature.
    The rate of chronic disease is going thru the roof!!!

  31. I have only one problem about GMO food, only one. Corporations spent 1.000.000$ in investigation and research and they want$ in profits. They're ready to push farmers to bankruptcy or suicide, to take endless goverment subsidies, to destroy all old varieties and do whatever is necessary to achieve their goals. That's the problem professional of bioengineering never talk about. And if you say you don't agree with that they say you're a fucking communist, ignorant, terrorist, etc, etc.

  32. I’m hearing this new thing, that seeds are distributed freely in India. Here, farmers buy these GMO seeds, which are 2-4 times costlier, on the pretext that the yield is higher. Farmers too think about profit, and thats what these MNC’s are catering to. How the future looks, only nature will speak

  33. if you want to feed the population talk to the lawmakers to avoid the daily dump of food to waste just because the demand cannot lower…Honestly..all of you are living with dementia….

  34. Wanna die a slow death? Say hello to GMO. Wanna give all kinds of diseases and abnormalities to your future generation? Say hello to GMO.

  35. They live on less than 2 dollars a day because that is how cheap it is to live there. They are happy with their lives.

  36. The question is whether by eating papaya that is immune to infection, are humans becoming more immune to infection as well or more prone ? I think we know the answer. Please stop BS.

  37. what a stupid Troll paid by the likes of Monsanto. She'd rather sell her soul than save the planet of humans. Maybe she is not.

  38. Very thorough. I wish I could help. I have so many ideas of science in such.

    I wanna know if humans have always participated in the manipulation of plants etc…?
    This may be the lesser of 2 evils things. Human helping plants and animals to help Humans. A continuous cycle. I gotta do more research. Good day.

  39. what proof do you have these were ancestors? this is hearsay. you weren't there. just like Carbon dating being inaccurate. damn secret agendas. legal murder. color of law. damn United States corporation.

  40. This is a bunch of b.s. !! Why? because the reality is: there are NO GMOS which have ever been shown to INCREASE any harvest, and the best, proven system of dancing with the natural world, is to farm organically. Also, the genetic modification of an organism, allows the patenting of the "altered" variety. I will always believe in open pollination…. and in cleaning up the poisons from the environment.

  41. She is a devil, a witch who beleives human can is more intelligent then mother nature.

    Science dont have answer to everything and it keeps on changing. But wisdom has, it is universal.

    I was diagnosed as bipolar disorder patient and given medicine for 18 years. Now i am medicine free. Now i am on gluten free casein free diet. I fry all my food in ghee only as ghee is product liberated out of heat. I use kachi ghani oil in tadka only so that the smell liberates out.Don't heat oil for too long as we are doing now a days as most of the frying is oil only instead use ghee. I dont eat tea cofee colddrinks food with preservative. Try to avoid sugar. I sweeten my mouth after meal with the help of 1/4 teaspoon honey or gur jaggery. Jaggery and honey are also having lot of adulteration try quality product only. Thanks for asking question may god bless you.

  42. I would agree with her if she agrees to test gentic changes on her 5 generation of her family that meands atleast 120 years, if all her family member are normal then it should be passed on.

  43. Whenever you don't want something to be labeled that's sinister" . So if you want to eat it good for you an your kids, for it is my Liberty to choose what I want to eat for whenever man touch something that was natural and try to play God that's when you find problems"

  44. Pamela Ronald hawks for the pesticide industry. The plant she here promotes – bt eggplant – is one that produces a pesticide-in-plant. There's nothing wrong with that theoretically, but this hasn't been proven safe for consumption. Studies indicate harm.

    The flood-tolerant rice Ronald developed is not a GMO, although she would like to have you believe so.

    About Pamela Ronald's relationship to pesticide-biotech industry:

  45. Natural Foods protect themselves, Modifications break the protection… People like this ,will NEVER wake up…taking God's Role, has consequences… (TED) needs to stop playing BOTH sides.. people deserve a choice before massively pushing any GMO crap…

  46. Cancer is hitting all families (or someone close to all ), now and getting worse. Its every where. Capitalist Monsanto tackles hunger, and kills half the humans with cancer, ( Tobacco Company logic)

  47. She works at UC Davis.

    UC Davis, Monsanto, and the Future of Biotech-

    Reprinted from the free weekly, 'The Sacramento News and Review'–

    "The future of a major research deal between UC Davis and the Monsanto corporation brings the role of the university into bold relief. How far can a university go in collaborating with private industry before its mission of contributing to basic knowledge becomes distorted? How will we know when it's gone too far?

    UC Davis faculty currently receive nearly $10 million in research contracts from the private sector- more than a few of them, according to UCD officials, with Monsanto. Even the most ardent opponents of large scale pact with Monsanto do not oppose contracts between individual professors and companies.

    What then to make of a potential agreement between UCD and Monsanto, which could include the location of a Monsanto research facility on or near the campus as well as a broad range of research agreements with faculty? The benefits to UC Davis are obvious: a continuous flow of money; access to Monsanto's proprietary information and cutting-edge technologies; university patents whose licensing fees can fatten UCD's wallet. For some, the question is how a university can afford not to have an arrangement with a company like Monsanto.

    The objectors to a Monsanto deal cite several reasons to oppose it: perversion of the faculty's research agenda to meet the profit demands of a corporation; restrictions on the right to publish when using proprietary corporate data; further erosion of open scientific communication among faculty; defilement of UC Davis's reputation through alliance with a company whose corporate practices are protested all over the world.

    None of these dilemmas will be removed if the Monsanto deal falls through, because all those millions of dollars of existing private sector contracts will remain.

    Even so, the question of scale, of over-reliance on a single source of funds, is a real one. Last April when Davis City Councilwoman Julie Partansky dared suggest reduction of municipal use of Monsanto's herbicide Roundup, she was met with a public rebuke from a Monsanto senior researcher: "As Monsanto searches for a permanent site for its West Coast operations… how would it look for a company to build a base of operations in a city that has banned, or even thought about banning its major product?" The attack on even having a "thought" should not be overlooked. This approach is apparently endemic to Monsanto's corporate culture.

    This week two former Fox news journalists were given the prestigious Ethics Award from the US Society of Professional Journalists for their investigative reporting on Monsanto's bovine growth hormone. After heavy legal pressure from Monsanto on Fox, their reports were suppressed and they were fired.

    How much greater would be the power of such implicit blackmail if Monsanto had the 'campus-wide' presence desired by some? What then would be the status of any member of the UC Davis community who had an objection to a Monsanto product or practice? Cause for reflection by the UCD faculty before the ink dries on any Monsanto agreement."

    ….. The story about the Fox news journalists is for real. Journalists Steve Wilson and Jane Akre were fired from the news station Fox 13 in Tampa Florida in December 1997. Those curious will find a more lengthy article about them in the Winter 98 issue of 'Adbusters' magazine.

  48. Don't believe this nonsense.


  50. There is plenty of evidence that insects carry myco toxins that turn into carcinogens as the insects eat the plant tissue leaving insect excrement behind opening up the plant, like a cut on your finger, it can get infected unless treated! Insect feeding opens up the plant tissue to soil or air borne diseases that can also contain carcinogens. Some times pesticide treatments are a necessary evil. That said it is still a pesticide sprayed onto the plant tissue, so i understand peoples reservations. It is vital to have individual free choice in matters of food especially. Choose for yourself. Come take part in the discussion and debate that is taking off at Grow the Farm up, It is a first of its kind platform YouTube channel for food consumers to clearly communicate with food producer and utilizing the collaboration to provide the consumer with exactly what they want. What a novel idea! remember farmers, it is our job to provide our customer with what they want. We need your feedback and ideas, we have learned so much in the short 3 weeks since we launched the channel, come join the discussion. Communication between farmers (food producers) and food consumers (everyone in the world!) is rudimentary at best and non existent at worst we are decades behind communicating between consumers and producers of food. Grow the Farm up is changing that, its time to open up a dialogue and Grow the Farm Up is the place that the discussion and debate about different farming practices, organic, conventional, NON GMO, and GMO's is taking place Also we are discussing efficient, accurate and low cost food labeling starting from the independent seed, one of the downsides of trying to label all food supplies is it will increase the cost of food. If you start with a pure, natural and high quality seed independently owned and grown all the 2nd generation plants will be pure, natural and high quality also, Seed Production is about 1% of all Agriculture, so labeling the seed is a much more economical and simpler way to arrive at the same result. What do you want to see on your food label? We need yours and all others feed back.

  51. LADY theres nothing sinister in genetic modification (even in some cases this gets stretched) BUT modifying genes for PROFIT and patent them as a company's ownership IT IS.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *