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Defending Genetic Modification

Pamela Roland's Talk on Crop Modification Dispels Myths and Fear

— May 3, 2018 — Keynote Trends
Plant geneticist Pamela Ronald fully understands the perceptions some people have on her work and offers a talk on crop modification and how genetic manipulation can better solve global agricultural issues.

Roland begins her talk by introducing her husband, Raoul, and his work as an organic farmer. She addresses that this union may seem strange to some, as her work focuses on genetic manipulation while he is focused on preserving the natural world, but Roland soon explains that while the two both seek to nourish the growing population without destroying the environment. The use of crop modification is not something completely new to the world and Roland explains this by showing the ancient ancestors of common food like corn, bananas, brussel sprouts and eggplant.

Roland then dives into her area of focus, rice, and elaborates on her past work with the grain. Her early work involved helping impoverished farmers develop a crop that would not die in the increasing floods. Roland's work in this field helped produce a new variety of rice that could survive in submerged areas for 18 days without fear of the crop dying.

This history of work embodies much of what Roland's talk and work centers around. While some may see genetic modification as a dangerous tampering of the natural world, the work Roland does, along with other plant geneticists, helps millions of people around the world. The ability to modify food can reduce the use of pesticides, increase crop potential and can even help introduce more nutrients that may be lacking in diets. Ronald's talk on crop modification manages to not just justify her work as a plant geneticist but also shows the power of the the science and how it should not be feared but accepted as a major part of humanity.
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