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Wisconsin Agriculturist

Activist efforts to disrupt biotechnology research are nothing new

The initial efforts by the late Dr. Norman Borlaug to develop new wheat varieties that helped feed millions of people met with numerous obstacles. Borlaug’s research plots were sabotaged and critics claimed the new wheat varieties would render women infertile. Monsanto’s Robb Fraley discussed those obstacles and parallels with today’s research on GMOs in this interview at the Farm Progress Show.

Fraley and two other biotech pioneers will receive the World Food Prize in ceremonies in Des Moines, Iowa, next month. The prize was started by Dr. Borlaug in an effort to honor efforts such as his to combat hunger by increasing crop yields in Third World Countries like India and Pakistan. Borlaug is the only scientist named to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and the Congressional Medal of Freedom.

The World Food Prize, which will be presented during ceremonies at the Iowa State Capitol on Oct. 17, has never been presented to biotechnology pioneers before. The ceremonies and the Borlaug Symposium, which is held in conjunction with awarding of the World Food Prize, are expected to draw protests. 

A member of the team at Monsanto that developed the first Roundup Ready and Bt crops, Fraley worked with Dr. Borlaug on a technology transfer project aimed at bringing new farming methods to food-deficient portions of the world. He remembers a speech by Dr. Borlaug in which the Iowa scientist talked about the sabotaging of research plots and spreading of rumors he encountered in his early years in India.

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