Horticulture Department Chair Dr. Kevin Folta and students Chris Barbey and Alejandra Abril Guevara spoke about genetic engineering at a bipartisan roundtable in the House Science Committee this past June. This discussion was led by Congressional Representative Frank Lucas of Oklahoma. Citing the disparatity between scientific consensus and pubic opinion, Rep. Lucas wanted our department to address some of the unscientific misconceptions surrounding GM crops.
Read Rep. Lucas describe the meeting in his own words: http://www.stwnewspress.com/opinion/columns/rep-frank-lucas-perception-of-gmo-foods-underserved/article_1f33e538-2dc6-11e5-bb29-6b2137526872.html
Professors and students from the UF Horticultural Sciences department will speak at a U.S. House Science Committee hearing on June 25. Though there is no set agenda for the hearing, the chairman of the department, Dr. Kevin Folta, said they will most likely be answering questions about GMO regulatory processes, food labeling and product safety.
“It is great that this committee is consulting with scientists that understand the evidence, and hopefully evidence will help them devise new policy,” Folta said.
Chris Barbey, a Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology doctoral student speaking at the hearing, said he hopes to clarify a few pervasive myths surrounding GMOs and biotechnology. Barbey said public fear and negative perception has left decades of publicly-funded crop research sits on the shelf.
“The safety of GMOs has been established and confirmed again and again. However, there is still substantial distance between the scientific facts and public perception,” he said.
Although this hearing may not do much to change that, Folta and the other scientists have the opporunity to provide Congress with scientific and evidence-based answers to the GMO debate.
“This is about discussing the science-based strengths and limitations of this technology,” Folta said. “I’m grateful that our students will have a chance to present the current state of the science.”