There has been a lot of confusion amongst some people regarding Monsanto‘s application for GM drought tolerant corn for feed and food use in Canada and the United States. The application has been made and could be ready if approved fro commercialization in 2012 or 2013. This gene will provide farmers with the ability to stabilize yield during adverse rainfall conditions. In my mind this is the kind of 2nd generation trait development that is going to provide excellent production benefits to farmers and have added benefits to the general public.
According to Trish Jordan, Public Relation Lead at Monsanto Canada in Winnipeg, agriculture accounts for 70% of the worlds annual water usage. Traits that allow plants like corn to use less of it will have a positive impact on the environment.
Lately on Twitter, there has been a lot of public criticism of Monsanto “pushing” this technology on the public. A couple weeks ago I spoke to some University of Lethbridge Agriculture students about the second generation of trait development which will provide not only production benefits but also greater benefits for the general public. I call this pull type trait development instead of push type trait development. Ask any city dwelling friend who knows nothing about agriculture whether or not they think we should develop plants that use less water but remain just as productive. I would imagine that they would think that it was a great idea. Pull type GMOs will become more acceptable for the general public because they provide benefits to all of society. Push type GMOs really only provide direct benefits for farmers because they were strictly production based and do not affect city people. Monsanto is not “pushing” the drought tolerant gene on anyone. This is a gene that farmers and people concerned about the environment will benefit from. Sounds like a positive innovation to me.