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Parents of the Corn

May 13, 2013

The Supreme Court ruling today, in which all nine judges ruled in favor of Monsanto, might be a patent case, but it is one involving a contentious topic: genetically modified (GMO) foods. It is an issue that over the years UC researchers have tried to bring some perspective to, given that it hinges as much on emotion as science.

Indeed, Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism Michael Pollan was among the first to make the subject a matter of public interest with his best-seller, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. California has also parsed the GMO conflict and related issues.

Most recently, Cooperative Extension Specialist Peggy Lemaux was featured in a KQED documentary on GMO chow, Next Meal: Engineering Food, that examined both the benefits and downsides of the technology. It also spun the future of the GMO industry in the aftermath of the defeat of Proposition 37, a 2012 California initiative that would’ve required labeling for GMO ingredients in all food products.

The documentary examines GMOs’ potential for reducing malnutrition in the developing world and the likelihood that crops could be specifically tailored to withstand climate change. Also covered are GMOs’ decidedly unappetizing risks: the unknown effects of “creeping” GMO DNA into the environment, and the threat GMO operations pose to neighboring farms growing organically certified crops.

We have a call in to Professor Lemaux and we’ll let you know what she has to say when we hear back from her.

—Glen Martin

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