At the Vanguard

If Frank started a grassroots movement, he would do it with Bamboo! McBride Gardens, Kaua’i, Credit: KJHvM

One year ago, I was contacted by a journalist in Washington by the name of Marco who wanted to learn more about the messy biology and politics of genetically engineered crops so he could write about them in his local paper. Part of his challenge was as the State of Washington was gearing up for a mandatory GMO labeling battle and the political divide was already beginning to affect how people viewed the science. His resulting article on Arctic Apples was published and probably opened a few minds. Next, he wanted to write something about the Green Genes movement, including part of his interview with me, however the paper was not very receptive and would only barely publish it with a ton of edits and… a disclaimer.

Now, instead you can read his excellent piece at the GMO Skepti-Forum site! (I’m biased) Here is an excerpt:

When GMOs were first introduced to the public twenty years ago they were nearly universally condemned by environmentalists. Overtime this universal condemnation has drifted farther away from the scientific consensus on GM crops. For scientists there is no debate. The GM crops currently available to the public pose no health risks, have benefited the environment, and have bestowed real benefits onto farmers. In this way, environmentalists—so united with scientists on climate change—have seen themselves part ways with science.

There is a faction within the environmental movement that is trying to buck this trend. Over the last few years there has emerged a “green gene” movement—a conglomerate of scientists, farmers, and activists who believe that the power of biotechnology can be used to make food more nutritious, aid in ending world hunger, and make agriculture more sustainable. The humanitarian goals of the green gene movement are primary, but underlining these concerns is a broader cultural shift within the environmental movement. Environmentalists have tended to view science and technology with suspicion, seeing it as responsible for creating our industrial society and therefore at the source of our environmental ills. The green gene movement is working to flip this idea on its head. Science and technology are seen as essential tools for solving some of the ecological threats facing the earth, and biotechnology can be a means to move us towards a more sustainable future.

At the vanguard of this movement is…

You’ll have to read the article to find out the rest! Marco Rosaire Conrad-Rossi has also contributed to our blog here, and I look forward to seeing more of his thoughtful writings.

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Karl earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics at UW-Madison, with a minor in Life Science Communication. His dissertation was on both the genetics of sweet corn and plant genetics outreach. He recently moved back to his home state of California. His favorite produce might just be squash.