Kurt Boudonck, a plant geneticist and Greenhouse group leader at Bayer CropScience’s RTP, explained why the world needs genetically modified organisms (GMOs) at a recent RTP 180 event. Boudonck said the purpose of GMOs is to solve the challenges of disease, pests and weeds safely and efficiently. “After reading student essays for Youth Ag Summit, I was struck with a surprising realization about hunger not only across the globe, but in the United States,” Boudonck said. “Did you know 1 in 5 U.S. children don’t get the food they need? That number really hit home because I have five daughters. Which one of my children would I send to bed hungry? That’s a decision no parent ever wants to make. “In order to teach my youngsters about the importance [and difficulties] of agriculture–we started a family vegetable garden in our back yard,” Boudonck said. “Unfortunately, it quickly became overrun with pests and weeds. Sadly, this is not an isolated problem for our back yard. For growers large and small, pests can be a huge challenge when trying to produce food to feed families and communities.” “Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions in agriculture. Insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, biologics and biotechnology are options to improve crop yield and quality, and you don’t necessarily have to choose one method over another. You can use them all together as an integrated platform.” “One specific method for protecting plants against pests is using a type of biotechnology called genetically modified organisms [GMOs],” Boudonck said. “In simple terms, you make a GMO by the transfer of a useful trait from one organism to another [like from a bacteria to a plant, or from plant to plant]. You end up with transgenic plants, also called GMO plants, that have certain beneficial traits that would protect growing seedlings from invasive pests.
“There are some questions about whether or not genetically modified organisms are safe to eat. My answer– absolutely yes. GMOs are the most researched food when it comes to safety. Regulatory agencies such as the FDA, EPA and USDA review them well before they reach the consumer’s and grower’s hands. No other food on the market is tested as much as a GMO food.”
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