Nobel laureate and molecular biologist Sir Richard Roberts discussed golden rice and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) via a video conference with over 250 participants. The event was hosted by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Library. Pamela Ronald, director of the Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy at UC Davis and author of Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food discussed Sir Richard’s presentation afterwards. CSHL Professor and HHMI Investigator Rob Martienssen directed audience questions to the discussants and moderated the event, with an introduction by Ludmila Pollock, executive director of Library and Archives.
During the hour-long discussion, Roberts discussed his continued advocacy for GMOs that would help feed people around the world, the obstacles the movement has faced, and how much more research there is to be done. Roberts, Ronald, and Martienssen also touched on other ways plant research is looking to improve crop health and yield.
“We’ve slowly been improving the crops using what were then called traditional techniques of making plant crosses and improving the varieties that we grow on the farms. But given the percentage of the world’s population that live in cities, it is absolutely essential that big agriculture continues to go on,” said Roberts. “We can’t just go back and pretend everybody can grow food in their backyard because that’s simply not possible. There are not enough backyards.”
Watch the full discussion below: