The New York Times Green Inc covers the three-day Princeton University conference — “Feeding a Hot and Hungry Planet: The Challenge of Making More Food and Fewer Greenhouse Gases.“ The use of corn, cotton and soybean crops that are genetically modified to be resistant to certain pests or herbicides is already widespread in many parts of the world, so all the big issues were on the table — including whether genetically modified crops are “sustainable.” Dr. Wayne Parrott, who spoke at the BIO International Conference this year, is at Princeton for the conference and is quoted in the Green Inc piece.
Excerpt from the story:
Meanwhile, Carl Pray, a professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics at Rutgers University, presented findings that show the use of cotton engineered to contain a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis — known as Bt cotton — has resulted in significantly reduced pesticide use in China, and dramatically increased yields in India. (The modified cotton is pest-resistant.)
But others at the conference said that, in the bigger picture, genetically modified crops have failed to live up to their early promise. “The benefits have not yet been that great from the environmental standpoint, or even from a production standpoint,” according to Tim Searchinger, a research scholar at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. “At least from published studies, Bt cotton is it.”
Others experts, including Wayne Parrott, a plant genomics researcher at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, called for patience. “We’re in the era of the first black and white television,” Mr. Parrott said. “We haven’t gotten to color televisions, and we’re nowhere near a flat-screen yet.”