Pamela Ronald: is a UC Davis researcher who studies the genes that make plants more resistant to disease and stress. In an eye-opening talk, she describes her decade-long quest to isolate a gene that allows rice to survive prolonged flooding. She shows how the genetic improvement of seeds saved the Hawaiian papaya crop in the 1990s and makes the case that modern genetics is sometimes the most effective method to advance sustainable agriculture and food security for our planet’s growing population without further harm to the environment.
Her book Tomorrow’s Table (co-authored with organic farmer Raoul Adamchak) argues that a judicious blend of genetic engineering and organic farming is key to helping feed the world’s growing population in an ecologically balanced manner.
The question to ask about a new crop, she says, is not, Is it GM?
but, Can it help food security in less developed nations?
Questions for Discussion
• What exactly are genetically modified foods?
• What could be some of the unintended consequences of these products?
• Do the stated benefits of GM foods outweigh the potential risks to human health?
• Should labeling be required on all GM foods?
Please use the comments section below to continue the discussion with your fellow students and instructor after class – or to share questions and relevant information you came across later in the week.