Introduced 25 years ago, genetically modified crops have been an ongoing and emotional debate between some consumer and activist groups and proponents of modern crop breeding. As we enter into the golden era of agriculture, where plant-based solutions are solving some critical global needs, will the safety of plant biotechnology demonstrated over the last quarter century and the advancement of important nutritional benefits change perspectives of anti-GM advocates?
Visiting Fellow at Cornell University and environmentalist Mark Lynas is a powerful example of the changing public perception. Lynas was a leading activist against genetically modified food who now speaks publicly about its benefits.
“As an environmentalist and as someone who believes everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counterproductive path and I now regret it completely,” admits Lynas.
“If the first biotech products had delivered the nutritional benefits we are able to deliver today instead of the yield and production benefit of herbicide resistance, the conversation would have likely been very different,” says Brent Zacharias, Global Group Executive with Nuseed. “Today, at Nuseed we are unlocking the power of plants through both traditional plant breeding and biotechnology to address complex problems with plant-based solutions.”
Nuseed’s sunflower, sorghum and carinata R&D programs use leading traditional plant breeding to advance agronomic performance. “Sunflower, sorghum and carinata are all non-GM because traditional plant breeding methods are the best approach for efficiently improving those crops to deliver benefits such as disease resistance, drought tolerance, and earlier maturing hybrids for more reliable and abundant harvests.”
The non-GM status of these crops is an advantage for the company in certain markets such as food-grade sorghum, sunflower oil and confection, and European livestock feed markets. Nuseed Carinata was developed through traditional plant breeding to deliver both a certified sustainable biofuel feedstock, grown between crops so as not to compete with food production, and a high protein non-GM meal.
“We believe in the ability of sustainable plant-based solutions to help supply the food, feed, and fuel our world needs. We use the best of traditional and modern practices to safely advance the nutritional, agronomic, and sustainability benefits of plants,” explains Zacharias.
Nuseed utilizes modern plant biotechnology to deliver the essential omega-3 nutrient from algae, for eye, brain and heart health, through a sustainable canola source. Nuseed’s Omega-3 Canola relieves pressure on wild fish stocks to meet the growing global demand for omega-3. Biotechnology is also fundamental to advancing the agronomic performance of canola hybrids.
“We respect that there are a wide range of opinions,” says Zacharias “At Nuseed, it’s not about GM or Non-GM, it’s about using all the tools available to help solve critical global challenges safely and sustainably with plant-based solutions.”