Monsanto's Robert Fraley Touts GMO Benefits and Cites Need for Better Communication with General Public About the TechnologyWed, 20 Jan 2016 13:29:41 CST
The Cato Institute featured a seminar at their headquarters in Washington on Wednesday that was also available online with Robert Fraley, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Monsanto on GMOs. The Seminar that featured Fraley was entitled "GMOs and the Future of the Global Food Supply and Medical Innovations."
On their website, the Cato Instititute says of the session "For thousands of years, farmers used selective breeding to produce more plentiful harvests and increase the usefulness of domesticated animals. Today, genetic engineering allows businesses to do the sameóbut more cheaply, precisely and speedily. Unbeknownst to most people, the use of genetically modified organisms is not limited to agriculture. GMO technology is all around us, helping to produce life-enhancing products, such as synthetic insulin, and life-saving medicines, such as cancer-fighting Avastin. Still, controversy surrounding GMOs persists."
Fraley shared his time during the presentation with Jennifer Kuzma, Distinguished Professor, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Professor, School of Public and International Affairs, North Carolina State University, who is skeptical about the safety and usefulness of GMOs.
Fraley told the Cato audience that we have reached the 20th anniversary of GMOs- and that since the first GMO came on the market in 1996, there have been 100 GMO products introduced globally, used in 30 countries and one fourth of the farm land globally has been used to raise GMOs. Fraley contends that there has been a track record since 1996 of "established safety" for GMOs. Kuzma, in responding to Fraley, expressed her doubts about the safety of the genetically enhanced crops, believing that regulators have not looked hard enough for problems regarding the safety of GMOs.
Fraley offered an extensive list of benefits to farmers and to society that have come out of the twenty years of using GMOs. Those benefits include:
Less Pesticide Use
Less tillage required
Lower CO2 Emissions
Lower Production Costs
Less Time in the Field Required
More Efficient Water Use
Higher Farmer Income
Fraley addressed the issue of labeling, and says that Monsanto is on board with voluntary labeling- and is excited about technology like the "smart labels" that have been talked about by the food industry. Fraley says that labels should be used to inform consumers- and not scare them as some groups that do not like the technology would like to see happen.
Fraley said that conversations need to be taking place between producers and consumers- and he offered regrets that Monsanto was not more aggresive in telling the positive story about GMOs early on instead of spending most of their time in talking with agricultural producers about GMOs. He told the audience that "we did a lousy job" of communicating with consumers for years- and only in the last couple of years has that began to change.
You can listen to Dr. Fraley's comments by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.
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