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The NPR/IQ2US Debate on GMOs

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On Dec. 3, Intelligence Squared U.S. (IQ2US) livestreamed a debate on GMOs. Monsanto’s Chief Technology Officer Dr. Robb Fraley and Alison Van Eenennaam, a genomics and biotechnology scientist at the University of California-Davis, argued the positive case for GMOs against Charles Benbrook, research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Margaret Mellon, a science policy consultant and former senior scientist for Union of Concerned Scientists.

IQ2US is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization founded in 2006 to restore civility, reasoned analysis and constructive public discourse to today’s often biased media landscape. IQ2US reaches millions through radio, television, live streaming, podcasts and interactive digital content. It’s one of the top 25 most popular podcasts on iTunes, and has won numerous prestigious awards. With close to 100 debates, IQ2US has encouraged the public to “think twice” on a wide range of provocative topics. The debate will be broadcast by National Public Radio in the near future.

On Dec. 3, the discussion on GMOS was civil and constructive, radically different than what usually occurs on social media. It was a neutral forum, and science won hands down. A poll before the debate had 32 percent in favor of GMOS, 30 against and 38 percent undecided. After the debate, it was 60 percent in favor of GMOs, 31 against, and 9 undecided.

Robb Fraley offers his perspective on what happened:

Media coverage of the debate was extensive, including:

Popular Science: In a Face-to-Face GMO Debate, the “For” Side Wins.

Grist: Finally, a GMO Debate Without Shouting.

Genetic Literacy Project: Battle over Biotechnology – Public Backs GM Research and Farming.

Capital Press: Pro-GMO Side ‘Wins’ Online Debate.

NASDAQ.com: This Company is Changing the Way People Think About GMOs (Hint: It’s Not Whole Foods)

Dr. Fraley summarized his reaction to the debate in a post on LinkedIn:

“As I prepared for the event, I noticed one of Intelligence Squared’s messages to the audience is to ‘Think Twice.’

“It stuck with me because the big issues of our time — climate change, population growth, food security, water scarcity — ask of us all to re-think our biases, consider multiple perspectives and engage in civilized dialogue.

“And it’s not just about pointing out differences. It’s about highlighting the areas where even adversaries on these issues actually share common ground. We all care about the environment; we all care about food security.

“The question is, how do we get to a better place?

You can watch the entire 1 hour, 45minute debate here:

1 Responses to "The NPR/IQ2US Debate on GMOs"

  1. Thank you, Dr. Fraley for always being a thoughtful, positive, honest proponent of science. I listened to your talk at the World Food Prize events this year, and was thoroughly impressed with your passion for feeding the world. You are not only a great scientist, but also a great communicator, and the agriculture industry needs more people like you. High five!

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