Pamela Ronald: The case for engineering our food
Pamela Ronald - Plant geneticist
Embracing both genetically improved seed and ecologically based farming methods, Pamela Ronald aims to enhance sustainable agriculture. Full bio
resistant to disease
have come to believe
about genetic modification.
a different perspective.
a variety of different crops.
ecological farming practices
and a plant geneticist?
because we have the same goal.
the growing population
challenge of our time.
has been genetically modified
that's covered in a hard case.
the ancient ancestor of banana.
genetic techniques over the years.
that's half tomato and half potato.
other types of genetic techniques,
that many of us fed our babies
even more options to choose from.
from my own work.
for more than half the world's people.
of the potential harvest
farmers plant rice varieties
for nearly 100 years.
that scientists finally uncovered
for immunity to a very serious
into a conventional rice variety
on the bottom here
that my laboratory published
stopped by my office.
are having trouble growing rice."
on less than two dollars a day.
in standing water,
if they're submerged
to be increasingly problematic
Kenong Xu and himself
that had an amazing property.
of complete submergence.
to help them isolate this gene.
because I knew if we were successful,
millions of farmers grow rice
looking for this gene.
You've got to see it."
that was flooded for 18 days had died,
had genetically engineered
called Sub1, was alive.
this dramatic effect.
a four-month time lapse video
Rice Research Institute.
a rice variety carrying the Sub1 gene
called precision breeding.
is the conventional variety.
three and a half times more grain
of plant genetics to help farmers.
of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,
grew Sub1 rice.
to mixing species together
from viruses and bacteria
it's the cheapest, safest,
and advancing sustainable agriculture.
It's delicious, right?
with papaya ringspot virus.
nearly wiped out the entire production
that the Hawaiian papaya was doomed,
named Dennis Gonsalves,
using genetic engineering.
and he inserted it
getting a vaccination.
engineered papaya in the center.
is severely infected with the virus.
with rescuing the papaya industry.
other method to control this disease.
There's no conventional method.
is genetically engineered.
queasy about viral genes in your food,
carries just a trace amount of the virus.
or conventional papaya
more viral protein.
feasting on an eggplant.
the back end of the insect.
eggplant crop in Bangladesh,
when pest pressure is high.
are very harmful to human health,
like these children.
it's estimated that 300,000 people
insecticide misuse and exposure.
decided to fight this disease
on an organic farming approach.
spray an insecticide called B.T.,
to caterpillar pests,
to humans, fish and birds.
does not work well in Bangladesh.
from getting inside the plants.
cut the gene out of the bacteria
the eggplant genome.
insecticide sprays in Bangladesh?
able to reduce their insecticide use
and replant for the next season.
of how genetic engineering can be used
can be used to reduce malnutrition.
because of lack of Vitamin A.
by the Rockefeller Foundation
which is the precursor of Vitamin A.
that we find in carrots.
of golden rice per day
of thousands of children.
against genetic modification.
a field trial in the Philippines.
were destroying much more
that children desperately needed
in the food are safe to eat?
genes between species,
in plants, in cheeses.
a single case of harm
asking you to believe me.
and rigorous peer review
in the world has concluded
on the market are safe to eat
of genetic engineering
of genetic modification.
organizations that most of us trust
important scientific issues
or the safety of vaccines.
worrying about the genes in our food,
children grow up healthy.
in rural communities can thrive,
the loud arguments and misinformation
who most need the technology
the vague fears and prejudices
innovation and use it.
alleviate human suffering
comes from two things.
that we've created,
by years of evolution,
with the rest of what's going on,
of cataclysm or problem,
the commercial incentive
to put them out there?
on purely scientific grounds,
a big risk of some unintended consequence?
do lead to big, unintended consequences
so on the commercial aspects,
to understand is that,
farmers in the United States,
they're organic or conventional,
interest to sell a lot of seed,
that the farmers want to buy.
less developed world.
of certification groups,
in less developed countries
is actually part of the conspiracy?
and people have no choice
for sure, but it doesn't work that way.
distributed, the flood-tolerant rice,
seed certification agencies,
support of the Rockefeller Foundation.
about, well, mixing genes,
we do something different,
kind of crazy things to our plants,
or chemical mutagenesis.
of uncharacterized mutations,
of unintended consequence
not to use the term GMO
about a specific crop
the needs of the consumer.
is that there's a mental model
and it's pure and pristine,
dangerous in some way,
that that whole model
interplay of genetic changes
all the time anyway.
no such thing as pure food.
eggplant with insecticides
but then you'd be stuck eating frass.
That was powerfully argued.
About the speaker:Pamela Ronald - Plant geneticist
Embracing both genetically improved seed and ecologically based farming methods, Pamela Ronald aims to enhance sustainable agriculture.
Why you should listen
As a proponent of sustainable agriculture using the most appropriate technologies, UC Davis researcher Pamela Ronald’s holistic vision startles some. But the success of her genetic tinkering is uncontroversial: it shows that genetic improvement is a critical component of feeding the world without further destroying the environment.
Her book Tomorrow’s Table (co-authored with organic farmer Raoul Adamchak) argues that to advance sustainable agriculture, we must not focus on how a seed variety was developed. Instead we must ask what technology most enhances local food security and can provide safe, abundant and nutritious food to consumers.
Pamela Ronald | Speaker | TED.com