Opponents and supporters of biotech crops joined for debate at the State Historical building on Monday. The public forum, hosted by the Des Moines Register, saw passions flare over possible health effects, weed resistances, and regulation of genetically modified crops such as corn an soybeans.
Panelist and organic farmer Ron Rosmann farms in Harlan, in western Iowa. He says he's not convinced genetically modified crops are entirely save to eat. "There could be, the emphasis on the could, there could be changes in the metabolism, the absorption, how cellular processes in foods that we don't know about."
Rosmann says he thinks GMO's should be labeled so more research can be done.
In the context of biotechnology Rosmann's approach is known as the "precautionary principle." This is a common criticism of genetically modified crops and a major reason biotech has not caught on in the European Union.
ISU Professor and Seed Science Endowed Chair Dr. Gary Munkvold supported GM crops on the panel. He says the precautionary principle asks too much from scientists. "There is no amount of evidence that will logically prove that there's never any harm that can come from anything, so I think it's a mistake to use that sort of approach to regulate biotechnology."
Both Munkvold and Rosmann agreed that more public funding should be invested into non-biased research over the seemingly endless debate.
No matter which side of the issue you find yourself on, genetic engineering and biotechnology will be discussed at length over the next three days at the 2013 Borlaug Dialogue at the Des Moines Mariott.