Monsanto VP Talks Controversy, Technology and the Future - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Monsanto VP Talks Controversy, Technology and the Future

By: Jason Rantala

@jarantala

jrantala@myabc5.com

The World Food Prize officially kicks off Wednesday, and among those being honored is the vice president of Monsanto, Robert Fraley.

For some, the name "Monsanto" doesn't come without its fair share of controversy.

Fraley started his work with genetically modified crops back in the 70's, before launching his first products in the 1990's.

"It's really exciting to see the impact that the technology has had," said Fraley.

Today, Fraley says farmers use genetically modified seeds in 30 countries around the world.

"We were successful in figuring out how to put that gene into a plant cell, that really opened the door for vast new ways to improve crops."

Locally, Monsanto has facilities in both Ankeny and Huxley. Ankeny has one of the largest molecular breeding labs in the world. 

Fraley says the most exciting thing about his work is seeing how new technology has improved yields and the ability to fight off bugs, weeds and drought.

While the technology has proven successful with farmers, it has also sparked outrage with some who call bio–engineering dangerous.

To the critics, Fraley says all you need to do is look at the science.

"The products have been used in the marketplace for well over 20 years and there has not been a single issue of food, feed or animal safety with these products."

As for the future of bio–engineering, Fraley says they are always discovering new genes to help improve conditions for farmers.

He says scientists can now understand crops down to the finest detail.

"They have given scientists the ability to really understand every single gene in a corn plant or in a tomato plant, knowing that we are able to create many better combinations, do it more precisely, and again that means better yield and better performance for seeds for farmers all around the world."

 

 

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