Did Bill Gates Just Change the GMO Debate

In The Country 03-09
New research and new support for GMO's ( Farm Journal )

COMMENTARY -- I'm always amazed at the new research that floats across my desk on nearly a daily basis. This week, a new international study revealed scientists have found a way to make crops use 25% less water without compromising yield. 

The key is altering the expression of one gene-- the gene that controls the protein responsible for opening and closing the microscopic pores on the plants leaves that let water escape. The scientists say that gene is found in all plants.

This study was funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and this week Mr. Gates also making his own announcement. During an "Ask Me Anything" interview Gates saying, "GMO foods are perfectly healthy and the technique has the possibility to reduce starvation and malnutrition when it is reviewed in the right way." He added that he doesn't stay away from Non-GMO foods but it is "disappointing that people view it as better."

That statement on the heels of another major research project. University teams in Italy compiling what's called a meta-analysis of studies around GMO corn. Looking data from six continents and thousands of fields over two decades the results say GMO corn does increase crop yields by about 25 percent and can actually provide more health benefits than traditional corn because it decreases the number of food contaminants like mycotoxins.

Even so...Its unlikely to change many minds or impact the billions of dollars in sales of organic products. After 40 years of debating GMO's, I think what I find most interesting is that science is still moving forward. New innovations using things like CRISPR-Cas and others are keeping these conversations relevant and timely. 

I would encourage you to do the research, learn what science is finding and join the conversation. Farmers will grow what consumers demand and that's the nice thing about America; we have a choice. If we didn't, there wouldn't be any debate at all.

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