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Candidate John Leslie answers question about GMO

John Leslie, candidate for Dean of University of Hawaii's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), gave a presentation on January 31, 2012. CTARH is involved in controversy over funding from Monsanto and their attitude toward GMO crops.

I live streamed the presentation and during the Q and A session asked about GMOs. I excerpt that here:



Here is an incredibly valuable transcription of this that Michael Broady, Jr. just up and decided to do on his own. Mahalo nui loa!:
DOUG: My name is H. Doug Matsuoka. I'm not part of the University, I'm part of the community. There's been some controversy recently both at the University and within the community about CTAHR's involvement with GMO's and GMO funding. What is your experience with GMO's or biotechnology? What is your plan for Hawaii if you get here? 
JOHN LESLIE: The use of biotechnology as a research tool is here and it's not going away. There is little doubt that people are going to be doing that kind of research to get answers to a lot of questions. We may debate whether that's a question we want to be asking, for example with the new revelations last week [about the] pandemic flu that's been recreated by using molecular biology type techniques. But in general I think the research is going to be here and it's going to stay.  



How it gets implemented into the communities is going to be a different issue, because every GMO based crop that's been introduced has run into interference. (???) things that are resistant to papaya ringspot which is a big one here, BT maize, Round Up ready soy beans, all have run into problems of acceptance, politically.  
There have been arguments about the safety of them, and there have been a lot of studies that have been undertaken to test them if they really are safe and whether there really are problems. There also have been tests that have been undertaken to determine whether they really do have the impact we'd like and whether everything we need to grow needs to be GMO.  
So for example, there was an economic study done of BT maize in the central part of the United States, and the biggest beneficiaries from BT maize were not the farmers who planted the BT maize. (???) and that sort of thing. The economic beneficiaries were those who planted (regular?) maize, because there was enough BT that was being planted to (long?) the population down. So it seems simplest to say that everything in that sense would be better if everything was GMO, what we're finding is perhaps we need to approach things differently, and to look at the kind of control that we have, and just as we think of biotechnology as one tool to do things in the land, we need to think of it as one tool to achieve global disease or higher yield in the field. And we need to take a look at those integrating kinds of things. 
Now, you also have to be sensitive to concerns of the community. You can't get around those, although many scientists would like to say 'RARARARA' and just sort of blow by them. But that's never a good idea. So that is part of continuing education that has to be done, if this is the best way or perhaps the only way to answer the question, then we have to look at ways that we can help people understand why that's and important thing to do, why it's a safe thing to do, and why it's a desirable thing to do, if that's the way were going to need to go to answer those questions.
So the science is part of it, but the communication with the community is another (???) part of it, and I wish there was a magic answer, a magic bullet that would make everybody happy, but there isn't. So I'm certain that even after extensive work with the community, there are going to be some people that say "no". And I'm not going to be able to convince everyone it's a great idea, and I'm not going to be able to convince some people that if it's something they truly believe, then I'm going to have a very hard time arguing them out, especially if they were never argued into it, it's something that's really right here next to their heart.

You can watch the entire 70 minute at a link CTAHR promises to post tomorrow. I'll put that up when I get it. My low quality recording of the live stream is linked below.

I'm posting this just for reference. I'd also appreciate a translation or interpretation of his answer. Direct answers are discouraged by the influence of GMO corporations at universities and the controversy surrounding GMOs.

For reference:
Here is a link to the information about all the candidates: http://www.manoa.hawaii.edu/executivesearch/ctahr/

The recorded version of my live stream (crappy quality courtesy of AT&T bandwidth): http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/20140664

H. Doug Matsuoka
31 January 2012

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