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Gene-Altered Attitudes: The gene revolution turns 25

Roger Beachy still remembers the excitement of planting the first genetically altered food crop into United States soils. It was the summer of 1987 when he, along with a team of Monsanto scientists, transplanted tomatoes modified to resist a virus at the company’s research farm, near Jerseyville, Illinois.

So writes Pamela Smith , Crops Technology Editor at DTN/Progressive Farmer in a series of articles on the modern history of gene technology.

“I believed we were seeding hope for a hungry world. We were working toward ways to reduce dependence on chemicals,” said Beachy, then a scientist at Washington University, in St. Louis, Missouri.

It would take almost a full decade before transgenic plants gained a serious foothold in U.S. soils, and they would not be those the idealistic young scientist envisioned. 

Beachy, who serves on the National Science Board, calls the initial rejection of the science and increased regulatory requirements that resulted, “arrogance of plenty.” Cutting-edge tools that could have improved quality of life for many through vitamin-enhanced food, for example, are only now starting to be realized some 30 years later, he noted.

Source: DTN/Progressive Farmer. Read the article here
Photo: New genetic tools enhance many crops, such as these potatoes in the labs at Calyxt. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo courtesy of Calyxt)

Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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