Tonight’s guest is long-time critic of genetically modified organisms and foods, Marti Crouch, a noted academic research scientist in plant molecular biology who turned her back on that career due to concerns about potential impacts of genetic engineering in agriculture.
With and a new wave of genetically engineered crops (GMOs) about to be commercialized, the battle for hearts and minds is heating up. Are GMOs required to feed the burgeoning population and to save the planet, as the biotech industry claims, or are GMOs a toxic hindrance to true food security and environmental sustainability, as critics contend? Join our guest, long-time GMO critic Marti Crouch, as we explore the implications of Dow Chemical’s new corn and soybeans engineered to withstand the WWII-era weedkiller 2,4-D – approved by federal regulators just a few weeks ago; Monsanto’s new herbicide-resistant cotton and soybean, Arctic apples that don’t turn brown, eucalyptus trees that withstand freezing, golden rice designed to alleviate vitamin A deficiencies, and other brave new crops on our horizon.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his great 1842 Essay Experience that “Nature hates calculators; her methods are saltatory and impulsive.”
Marti Crouch has written that “Genes have an ecology – a complex way of interacting with themselves and the environment – that can interfere with the linear logic of genetic engineering.”
Nature leaps and dances upon (and over and under and to the side of) the linear…
Martha Crouch, Ph.D., Science Consultant
Marti was a graduate student at Yale University studying the development of seeds and flowers when genes were first cloned in the 1970s. By the time she headed her own plant molecular biology lab at Indiana University in the 1980s, plant genes were being patented. Prof. Crouch became concerned about potential impacts of genetic engineering in agriculture and her own contributions, and as a result shut down her research lab in the 1990s and taught courses on the intersections of technology, food and agriculture, with an emphasis on environmental impacts. In 2001, Marti left Indiana University, and now pursues independent scholarship and consulting. Her background thus spans the whole history of genetic engineering in agriculture, as both a participant and a critic, giving Marti a valuable set of skills and perspectives for her work on impacts of recent technologies for non-profits such as the Center for Food Safety. Marti is also the official wild mushroom inspector at the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market.
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