When it comes to agricultural biotechnology, “most of what people believe is the exact opposite of the truth,” according to Dr. Nina Federoff, board chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Thirty years of research and the planting of biotech crops around the world show that there is “no evidence that modifying plants by molecular technology has any dangerous effects associated with it.”
Dr. Federoff spoke Tuesday at a panel discussion at Resources for the Future in Washington, D.C. She decried the ongoing campaign against genetically modified crops by various activists and said the major traits, such as herbicide tolerance and insect resistance, are “pretty innocuous” and have no effect on humans.
Rather than harming the environment, biotech can be beneficial, she said, noting that no-till farming preserves soil quality and that the reduction in insecticide spraying means there are more insects and great biodiversity in the fields.
Dr. James Murray, professor of animal science at the University of California at Davis, said genetic modification in food animals has been “overregulated to death.”
“GE livestock, poultry and fish will be necessary to feed the world in the future,” he said. “The greatest risk is that they will not be used. What benefits will we forgo for the hypothetical risks?”